samedi 21 avril 2012

Saint ANSELME de CANTORBERY (21 avril), archevêque, confesseur et Docteur de l'Église



Saint Anselme, évêque et docteur de l'Église

Anselme (1033-1109) naquit dans la Val d'Aoste, il fut moine au Bec en Normandie, puis archevêque de Cantorbéry, vingt ans après le martyre de Thomas Becket. Toute sa vie consista dans une recherche ardente de Dieu, l'Etre parfait, à la lumière de l'intelligence et de la foi. Mais ce contemplatif sut aussi se battre pour défendre la liberté de l'Église.

SOURCE : http://www.paroisse-saint-aygulf.fr/index.php/prieres-et-liturgie/saints-par-mois/icalrepeat.detail/2015/04/21/6325/-/saint-anselme-eveque-et-docteur-de-l-eglise

SAINT ANSELME

Archevêque de Cantorbéry, Docteur de l'Église

(1034-1109)

Anselme naquit à Aoste, en Piémont. Sa pieuse mère Ermengarde lui apprit de bonne heure à aimer Dieu et la Très Sainte Vierge; mais, privé du soutien maternel vers l'âge de quinze ans, poursuivi dans sa vocation religieuse par un père mondain et intraitable, il se laissa entraîner par le monde.

Las d'être la victime de son père, il s'enfuit en France, et se fixa comme étudiant à l'abbaye du Bec, en Normandie. Là il dit à Lafranc, chef de cette célèbre école: "Trois chemins me sont ouverts: être religieux au Bec, vivre en ermite, ou rester dans le monde pour soulager les pauvres avec mes richesses: parlez, je vous obéis." Lafranc se prononça pour la vie religieuse. Ce jour-là, l'abbaye du Bec fit la plus brillante de ses conquêtes. Anselme avait vingt-sept ans.

Quand bientôt Lafranc prit possession du siège archiépiscopal de Cantorbéry, il fut élu prieur de l'abbaye, malgré toutes ses résistances; il était déjà non seulement un savant, mais un Saint. De prieur, il devint abbé, et dut encore accepter par force ce fardeau, dont lui seul se croyait indigne.

Sa vertu croissait avec la grandeur de ses charges. Le temps que lui laissait libre la conduite du couvent, il le passait dans l'étude de l'Écriture Sainte et la composition d'ouvrages pieux ou philosophiques. La prière toutefois passait avant tout le reste; l'aube le retrouvait fréquemment à genoux. Un jour le frère excitateur, allant réveiller ses frères pour le chant des Matines, aperçut dans la salle du chapitre, une vive lumière; c'était le saint abbé en prière, environné d'une auréole de feu.

Forcé par la voix du Ciel, le roi d'Angleterre, Guillaume, le nomme archevêque de Cantorbéry; Anselme refuse obstinément; mais, malgré lui, il est porté en triomphe sur le trône des Pontifes. Huit mois après, il n'était pas sacré; c'est qu'il exigeait comme condition la restitution des biens enlevés par le roi à l'Église de Cantorbéry. Le roi promit; mais il manqua à sa parole, et dès lors Anselme, inébranlable dans le maintien de ses droits, ne fut plus qu'un grand persécuté.

Obligé de fuir, il traversa triomphalement la France, et alla visiter le Pape, qui le proclama hautement "héros de doctrine et de vertu; intrépide dans les combats de la foi." Quand Anselme apprit la mort tragique de Guillaume dans une partie de chasse, il s'écria en fondant en larmes: "Hélas! J'eusse donné ma vie pour lui épargner cette mort terrible!" Anselme put revenir en Angleterre, vivre quelques années en paix sur son siège, et il vit refleurir la religion dans son Église.

Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950.

SOURCE : http://magnificat.ca/cal/fr/saints/saint_anselme.html


Éveil de l'esprit à la contemplation de Dieu

"Et maintenant, homme de rien, fuis un moment tes occupations, cache-toi un peu de tes pensées tumultueuses. Rejette maintenant tes pesants soucis, et remets à plus tard tes tensions laborieuses. Vaque quelque peu à Dieu, et repose-toi quelque peu en Lui. Entre dans la cellule de ton âme, exclus tout hormis Dieu et ce qui t'aide à le chercher ; porte fermée, cherche-le. Dis maintenant, tout mon cœur, dis maintenant à Dieu : Je cherche ton visage, ton visage, Seigneur, je le recherche. Et maintenant, Toi Seigneur mon Dieu, enseigne à mon cœur où et comment Te chercher, où et comment Te trouver. Seigneur, si Tu n'es pas ici, où Te chercherai-je absent ? Et, si Tu es partout, pourquoi ne Te vois-je pas présent ? Mais certainement Tu habites la lumière inaccessible. Où est la lumière inaccessible ? Ou bien comment accéderai-je à la lumière inaccessible ? Ou qui me conduira et introduira en elle pour qu'en elle je Te voie ? Par quels signes enfin, par quelle face Te chercherai-je ? Je ne T'ai jamais vu, Seigneur mon Dieu, je ne connais pas ta face. Que fera, très haut Seigneur, que fera cet exilé, tien et éloigné ? Que fera ton serviteur, anxieux de ton amour et projeté loin de ta face. II s'essouffle pour Te voir, et ta face lui est par trop absente. Il désire accéder à Toi, et ton habitation est inaccessible. Il souhaite vivement Te trouver, et il ne sait ton lieu. Il se dispose à Te chercher, et il ignore ton visage. Seigneur, Tu es mon Dieu, Tu es mon Seigneur, et je ne T'ai jamais vu. Tu m'as fait et fait à nouveau, Tu m'as conféré tous mes biens, et je ne Te connais pas encore. Bref, j'ai été fait pour Te voir et je n'ai pas encore fait ce pour quoi j'ai été fait.

Seigneur, et je ne T'ai jamais vu. Tu m'as fait et fait à nouveau, Tu m'as conféré tous mes biens, et je ne Te connais pas encore. Bref, j'ai été fait pour Te voir et je n'ai pas encore fait ce pour quoi j'ai été fait. Et Toi, ô Seigneur, jusques à quand ? Jusques à quand, Seigneur, nous oublieras-Tu, jusques à quand détournes-Tu de nous ta face? Quand nous regarderas-Tu et nous exauceras-Tu? Quand illumineras-Tu nos yeux et nous montreras-Tu ta face? Quand Te rendras-Tu à nous? Regarde-nous, Seigneur, exauce-nous, illumine-nous, montre-toi à nous. Rends-toi à nous, que nous soyons bien, nous qui, sans Toi, sommes si mal. Aie pitié de nos labeurs et de nos efforts vers Toi, nous qui ne valons rien sans Toi.

Enseigne-moi à Te chercher, montre-toi à qui Te cherche, car je ne puis Te chercher si Tu ne m'enseignes, ni Te trouver si Tu ne te montres. Que je Te cherche en désirant, que je désire en cherchant. Que je trouve en aimant, que j'aime en trouvant."

Saint Anselme de Canterbury, évêque : Proslogion, 1.

Prière:

Ô Dieu qui as inspiré à Saint Anselme un ardent désir de Te trouver dans la prière et la contemplation, au milieu de l'agitation de ses occupations quotidiennes, aide-nous à interrompre le rythme fébrile de nos occupations, entre les soucis et les inquiétudes de la vie moderne, pour parler avec Toi, notre unique espérance et salut. Nous te Le demandons par Jésus le Christ notre Seigneur.

Par l'Athénée Pontifical "Regina Apostolorum"



BENOÎT XVI


AUDIENCE GÉNÉRALE


Mercredi 23 septembre 2009


Saint Anselme


Chers frères et sœurs,

A Rome, sur la colline de l'Aventin, se trouve l'abbaye bénédictine de Saint-Anselme. En tant que siège d'un institut d'études supérieures et de l'abbé primat des Bénédictins confédérés, c'est un lieu qui unit la prière, l'étude et le gouvernement, qui sont précisément les trois activités qui caractérisent la vie du saint auquel elle est dédiée: Anselme d'Aoste, dont nous célébrons cette année le ix centenaire de la mort. Les multiples initiatives, promues spécialement par le diocèse d'Aoste pour cette heureuse occasion, ont souligné l'intérêt que continue de susciter ce penseur médiéval. Il est connu également comme Anselme du Bec et Anselme de Canterbury en raison des villes auxquelles il est lié. Qui est ce personnage auquel trois localités, éloignées entre elles et situées dans trois nations différentes - Italie, France, Angleterre - se sentent particulièrement liées? Moine à la vie spirituelle intense, excellent éducateur de jeunes, théologien possédant une extraordinaire capacité spéculative, sage homme de gouvernement et défenseur intransigeant de la libertas Ecclesiae, de la liberté de l'Eglise, Anselme est l'une des personnalités éminentes du Moyen-âge, qui sut harmoniser toutes ces qualités grâce à une profonde expérience mystique, qui en guida toujours la pensée et l'action.

Saint Anselme naquit en 1033 (ou au début de 1034), à Aoste, premier-né d'une famille noble. Son père était un homme rude, dédié aux plaisirs de la vie et dépensant tous ses biens; sa mère, en revanche, était une femme d'une conduite exemplaire et d'une profonde religiosité (cf. Eadmero, Vita s. Anselmi, PL 159, col. 49). Ce fut elle qui prit soin de la formation humaine et religieuse initiale de son fils, qu'elle confia ensuite aux bénédictins d'un prieuré d'Aoste. Anselme qui, enfant - comme l'écrit son biographe -, imaginait la demeure du bon Dieu entre les cimes élevées et enneigées des Alpes, rêva une nuit d'être invité dans cette demeure splendide par Dieu lui-même, qui s'entretint longuement et aimablement avec lui, et à la fin, lui offrit à manger "un morceau de pain très blanc" (ibid., col. 51). Ce rêve suscita en lui la conviction d'être appelé à accomplir une haute mission. A l'âge de quinze ans, il demanda à être admis dans l'ordre bénédictin, mais son père s'opposa de toute son autorité et ne céda pas même lorsque son fils gravement malade, se sentant proche de la mort, implora l'habit religieux comme suprême réconfort. Après la guérison et la disparition prématurée de sa mère, Anselme traversa une période de débauche morale: il négligea ses études et, emporté par les passions terrestres, devint sourd à l'appel de Dieu. Il quitta le foyer familial et commença à errer à travers la France à la recherche de nouvelles expériences. Après trois ans, arrivé en Normandie, il se rendit à l'abbaye bénédictine du Bec, attiré par la renommée de Lanfranc de Pavie, prieur du monastère. Ce fut pour lui une rencontre providentielle et décisive pour le reste de sa vie. Sous la direction de Lanfranc, Anselme reprit en effet avec vigueur ses études, et, en peu de temps, devint non seulement l'élève préféré, mais également le confident du maître. Sa vocation monastique se raviva et, après un examen attentif, à l'âge de 27 ans, il entra dans l'Ordre monastique et fut ordonné prêtre. L'ascèse et l'étude lui ouvrirent de nouveaux horizons, lui faisant retrouver, à un degré bien plus élevé, la proximité avec Dieu qu'il avait eue enfant.

Lorsqu'en 1063, Lanfranc devint abbé de Caen, Anselme, après seulement trois ans de vie monastique, fut nommé prieur du monastère du Bec et maître de l'école claustrale, révélant des dons de brillant éducateur. Il n'aimait pas les méthodes autoritaires; il comparait les jeunes à de petites plantes qui se développent mieux si elles ne sont pas enfermées dans des serres et il leur accordait une "saine" liberté. Il était très exigeant avec lui-même et avec les autres dans l'observance monastique, mais plutôt que d'imposer la discipline il s'efforçait de la faire suivre par la persuasion. A la mort de l'abbé Herluin, fondateur de l'abbaye du Bec, Anselme fut élu à l'unanimité à sa succession: c'était en février 1079. Entretemps, de nombreux moines avaient été appelés à Canterbury pour apporter aux frères d'outre-Manche le renouveau en cours sur le continent. Leur œuvre fut bien acceptée, au point que Lanfranc de Pavie, abbé de Caen, devint le nouvel archevêque de Canterbury et il demanda à Anselme de passer un certain temps avec lui pour instruire les moines et l'aider dans la situation difficile où se trouvait sa communauté ecclésiale après l'invasion des Normands. Le séjour d'Anselme se révéla très fructueux; il gagna la sympathie et l'estime générale, si bien qu'à la mort de Lanfranc, il fut choisi pour lui succéder sur le siège archiépiscopal de Canterbury. Il reçut la consécration épiscopale solennelle en décembre 1093.

Anselme s'engagea immédiatement dans une lutte énergique pour la liberté de l'Eglise, soutenant avec courage l'indépendance du pouvoir spirituel par rapport au pouvoir temporel. Il défendit l'Eglise des ingérences indues des autorités politiques, en particulier des rois Guillaume le Rouge et Henri I, trouvant encouragement et appui chez le Pontife Romain, auquel Anselme démontra toujours une adhésion courageuse et cordiale. Cette fidélité lui coûta également, en 1103, l'amertume de l'exil de son siège de Canterbury. Et c'est seulement en 1106, lorsque le roi Henri I renonça à la prétention de conférer les investitures ecclésiastiques, ainsi qu'au prélèvement des taxes et à la confiscation des biens de l'Eglise, qu'Anselme put revenir en Angleterre, accueilli dans la joie par le clergé et par le peuple. Ainsi s'était heureusement conclue la longue lutte qu'il avait menée avec les armes de la persévérance, de la fierté et de la bonté. Ce saint archevêque qui suscitait une telle admiration autour de lui, où qu'il se rende, consacra les dernières années de sa vie en particulier à la formation morale du clergé et à la recherche intellectuelle sur des sujets théologiques. Il mourut le 21 avril 1109, accompagné par les paroles de l'Evangile proclamé lors de la Messe de ce jour: "Vous êtes, vous, ceux qui sont demeurés constamment avec moi dans mes épreuves; et moi je dispose pour vous du Royaume comme mon Père en a disposé pour moi: vous mangerez à ma table en mon Royaume" (Lc 22, 28-30). Le songe de ce mystérieux banquet, qu'il avait fait enfant tout au début de son chemin spirituel, trouvait ainsi sa réalisation. Jésus, qui l'avait invité à s'asseoir à sa table, accueillit saint Anselme, à sa mort, dans le royaume éternel du Père.

"Dieu, je t'en prie, je veux te connaître, je veux t'aimer et pouvoir profiter de toi. Et si, en cette vie, je ne suis pas pleinement capable de cela, que je puisse au moins progresser chaque jour jusqu'à parvenir à la plénitude" (Proslogion, chap. 14). Cette prière permet de comprendre l'âme mystique de ce grand saint de l'époque médiévale, fondateur de la théologie scolastique, à qui la tradition chrétienne a donné le titre de "Docteur Magnifique", car il cultiva un intense désir d'approfondir les Mystères divins, tout en étant cependant pleinement conscient que le chemin de recherche de Dieu n'est jamais terminé, tout au moins sur cette terre. La clarté et la rigueur logique de sa pensée ont toujours eu comme fin d'"élever l'esprit à la contemplation de Dieu" (ibid., Proemium). Il affirme clairement que celui qui entend faire de la théologie ne peut pas compter seulement sur son intelligence, mais qu'il doit cultiver dans le même temps une profonde expérience de foi. L'activité du théologien, selon saint Anselme, se développe ainsi en trois stades: la foi, don gratuit de Dieu qu'il faut accueillir avec humilité; l'expérience, qui consiste à incarner la parole de Dieu dans sa propre existence quotidienne; et ensuite la véritable connaissance, qui n'est jamais le fruit de raisonnements aseptisés, mais bien d'une intuition contemplative. A ce propos, restent plus que jamais utiles également aujourd'hui, pour une saine recherche théologique et pour quiconque désire approfondir la vérité de la foi, ses paroles célèbres: "Je ne tente pas, Seigneur, de pénétrer ta profondeur, car je ne peux pas, même de loin, comparer avec elle mon intellect; mais je désire comprendre, au moins jusqu'à un certain point, ta vérité, que mon cœur croit et aime. Je ne cherche pas, en effet, à comprendre pour croire, mais je crois pour comprendre" (ibid., 1).

* * *

J’accueille avec joie ce matin les pèlerins francophones. Je salue en particulier les séminaristes d’Aix-en-Provence, accompagnés de l’Archevêque, Mgr Feidt, les paroisses de Baie Saint-Paul, au Canada, de Saint-Jacques à Paris, et de Rodez. A l’exemple de saint Anselme, aimez, vous aussi, l’Eglise du Christ, priez et travaillez pour elle, sans jamais l’abandonner ou la trahir! Avec ma Bénédiction apostolique!

© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana




Saint Anselme de Canterbury (1033-1109)

"Je ne cherche pas à comprendre afin de croire, mais je crois afin de comprendre. Car je crois ceci - à moins que je crois, je ne comprendrai pas. "

Saint Anselme est vraiment un homme européen : il est né en Italie, il a ensuite été abbé du Bec, en France, et il est ensuite devenu archevêque de Canterbury, en Angleterre. Par sa culture, en tant qu'éducateur, et en tant que prêtre, c'était un Européen". Saint Anselme, que l'on a souvent présenté comme un relais théologique important entre saint Augustin et saint Thomas, est resté fameux pour les "Preuves de l'existence de Dieu", de son "Monologion" et de son "Proslogion".

De son abbaye béndictine normande à l'archevéché de Canterbury

Né à Aoste, en Piémont, Anselme s'est fait bénédictin à l'abbaye normande du Bec. Il devint abbé du Bec avant de succéder à Lanfranc comme archevêque de Canterbury. Mais son opposition à Guillaume le Roux qui empiétait sur les biens de l'Eglise lui valut l'exil. En 1098, il participa au concile de Bari et, à la demande du pape, s'employa à dissiper les doutes théologiques soulevés par les évêques italo-grecs. A la mort de Guillaume le Roux, et sur l'invitation du nouveau roi, Henri 1er, il regagna son siège de Cantorbéry. Mais la querelle des investitures allait de nouveau l'opposer au souverain anglais. En effet, depuis le IXe siècle, l'investiture des abbés et des évêques étaient conférés par les princes - laïcs -, la consécration ecclésiastique était seconde. Cet usage confinait parfois à la simonie, ou en tous cas, elle constituait une ingérence dans le gouvernement de l'Eglise.

Un second exil se solda par un retour triomphal en 1106. Son secrétaire, Eadmer, un jeune moine de Christ Church, à Canterbury, a laissé à la postérité la biographie du saint. Celui-ci a été proclamé docteur de l'Eglise en 1720. Abbé bénédictin de Sainte-Marie du Bec, en Normandie (1078), il devient archevêque de Canterbury en 1093 et fut, quelque temps, exilé.

La connaissance, bien que nécessaire pour croire, n’est ni l’origine ni l’achèvement de la foi, car, à son tour, elle doit se transformer en amour et en contemplation de Dieu

Selon sa théologie, la connaissance, bien que nécessaire pour croire, n’est ni l’origine ni l’achèvement de la foi, car, à son tour, elle doit se transformer en amour et en contemplation de Dieu (Monologion). Mais c’est dans le Proslogion qu’Anselme pense atteindre ce but par l’argument de la preuve ontologique. Cette " preuve " est au point de départ de la controverse sur l’existence de Dieu qui traversa la philosophie jusqu’à Hegel et la théologie jusqu’à K. Barth (Dictionnaire Encyclopédique Larousse, 1979). Saint Anselme de Canterbury soutient qu'il est possible de concilier la foi et les principes de la logique et de la dialectique. En qualité de primat d'Angleterre, il s'attaque à la corruption du clergé et à l'invasion du pouvoir laïque, au point de se trouver en conflit avec le roi Guillaume II "le Roux", ainsi qu'avec son successeur, Henri II, qui finit par l'exiler.

Le théologien le plus important du XIe siècle et le père de la philosophie scolastique

Il est tenu par beaucoup pour le théologien le plus important du XIe siècle et pour le père de la philosophie scolastique, convaincu que la foi elle-même pousse à une compréhension rationnelle plus intelligente (fides quaerens intellectum). La foi est un don et un point de départ et aucun argument rationnel ne peut la renverser et la détruire, ni lui nuire. La raison vraie conduit nécessairement aux vérités de la foi.

Dans le Proslogion il définit Dieu comme :

« ce qui est tel qu’a priori rien de plus grand (de plus parfait) ne peut être pensé ».

Celui qui cherche à comprendre si Dieu existe, peut comprendre ce principe parce qu’il se trouve dans son intelligence. Si l’on admet à présent que ce qui est plus parfait n’est pas seulement pensé mais qu’en plus, il existe en réalité a priori, alors doit exister nécessairement "ce qui est tel qu’on ne peut rien penser a priori de plus parfait". Saint Anselme de Canterbury étend l’argument en constatant que, d’après la définition de départ de Dieu la non-existence d’un tel être est inconcevable, car ce qui existe nécessairement, est plus parfait que quelque chose dont la non-existence peut être pensée, et qui existe donc par contingence. L’argument de Saint Anselme de Canterbury fut âprement discuté tout au long du Moyen Age.

Le principe de la circumincession, pour aborder le mystère de la Trinité

Il insiste sur le fait que ce qui est créé ne peut se maintenir dans l’être par soi-même (il a besoin de Dieu pour cela) et sur le fait que l’âme humaine est une image de Dieu, qui possède 3 facultés principales : mémoire (memoria), intelligence (intelligentia), et amour (amor). Elle a été créée pour aimer Dieu comme le souverain bien. Dans le "Dialogue sur la Vérité", il décrit 3 niveaux de vérité :

- les vérités éternelles en Dieu (les Idées),

- la vérité des choses qui repose sur la concordance avec la vérité divine,

- la vérité de la pensée et de l'énoncé qui se trouve dans la concordance avec les choses.

«Ainsi la vérité de l’être des choses est à la fois

l’effet de la vérité suprême et, en même temps,

le fondement de cette vérité qui vient à la connaissance, et à la vérité contenue dans l’énoncé [...]».

Sa définition la plus courte de la vérité est :

« La vérité est la rectitude qui seule est compréhensible par l’esprit (veritas est rectitudo mente solo perceptibilis)».

La rectitude rapportée à l’homme signifie selon lui que l’homme tout entier - avec sa pensée, son comportement, et sa volonté - se tourne vers l’éternel fondement qui est Dieu, et qu’il s’engage dans l’être juste qui rend possible la rencontre avec la vérité.

Saint Anselme de Canterbury a aussi formulé le principe que dans Dieu tout est un, excepté pour les différences des relations entre les 3 personnes de la Trinité. Ce principe est la théologie de base pour la doctrine de l'habitation mutuelle des 3 personnes divines, la "circumincession" :

-le Père est dans le Fils, le Fils est dans le Père Jn.10:37-38, 14:10-11, 17:21,

- le Saint-Esprit est dans le Fils Jn.3:34 et le Père 1Co.2:10-11,

- et le Fils et le Père sont dans le Saint-Esprit, Ep.2:21-22, Jn.14:23.

Le principe de la circumincession a été adopté au concile de Florence en 1442.

Saint Anselme, d'une grande piété mariale, a beaucoup préché sur la Vierge Marie

Dans son "De conceptu virginali et originali peccato", il écrit entre autre :

"Il convenait que cette Vierge à qui le Père se disposait à donner son Fils unique, ce Fils engendré de son cœur, égal à lui et qu'il aime comme lui-même, qu'il voulait lui donner de sorte qu'il fût naturellement un seul et même Fils, commun à Dieu et à la Vierge, il convenait que cette Vierge fût ornée de la plus haute sainteté qui se puisse concevoir après celle de Dieu."

C'est aussi dans les écrits de saint Anselme que l'on trouve l'une des premières traces (1) de la dévotion aux douleurs de la Vierge, à la fin du XI siècle. Il écrit ainsi :

" Votre peine, Vierge sacrée, a été la plus grande qu'une pure créature ait jamais endurée ; car toutes les cruautés que nous lisons que l'on a fait subir aux martyrs, ont été légères et comme rien en comparaison de votre douleur. Elle a été si grande et si immense, qu'elle a crucifié toutes vos entrailles et a pénétré jusque dans les plus secrets replis de votre coeur. Pour moi, ma très pieuse Maîtresse, je suis persuadé que vous n'auriez jamais pu en souffrir la violence sans mourir, si l'esprit de vie de votre aimable Fils, pour lequel vous souffriez de si grands tourments, ne vous avait soutenue et fortifiée par sa puissance infinie " (saint Anselme : " De l'exercice de la Vierge ", I 5).

(1) On en trouve trace aussi dans les écrits de saint Pierre Damien (mort en 1072), de saint Anselme (mort en 1109), d'Eadmer de Cantorbéry (mort en 1124), de saint Bernard (mort en 1153) et de moines bénédictins et cisterciens qui méditent le passage de l'Evangile qui montre Marie et Jean au pied de la Croix (Evangile selon saint Jean, XIX 25-27).



L'Immaculée et le cosmos (St Anselme)

Saint Anselme comprend, dans la foi, que la création entière, terrestre et angélique, est toute entière restaurée en Marie immaculée. En notre temps où l'écologie est remise à l'honneur, ce regard profond est très actuel !

« Ciel, étoiles, terre, fleuves, jour, nuit et toutes les créatures qui sont soumises au pouvoir de l'homme ou disposée pour son utilité se réjouissent, o Notre Dame, d'avoir été par toi d’une certaine manière ressuscités à la splendeur qu’ils avaient perdue, et d'avoir reçu une nouvelle grâce inexprimable.

Les choses étaient comme mortes car elles avaient perdu la dignité originelle à laquelle elles avaient été destinées.

Leur but était de servir à la maîtrise ou aux nécessités des créatures auxquelles appartenait de faire monter la louange vers Dieu.

Elles étaient écrasées par l'oppression et avaient perdu leur vitalité par l'abus de ceux qui s'étaient faits serviteurs des idoles. Mais elles n'étaient pas destinées aux idoles.

Maintenant par contre, presque ressuscitées, elles se réjouissent d'être soutenues par la maîtrise et embellies par l'usage des hommes qui louent Dieu.

Elles ont exultées comme d'une nouvelle et inestimable grâce en entendant que Dieu lui-même, leur Créateur, non seulement invisiblement les gouverne d’en haut, mais est aussi présent parmi eux visiblement, et les sanctifie en se servant d'elles.

Ces biens si grands sont venus du fruit béni du sein béni de Marie bénie.

Par la plénitude de ta grâce les créatures qui étaient aux enfers se réjouissent dans la joie d'être libérées, et celles qui sont sur la terre se réjouissent d'être renouvelées.

En vérité par le fils glorieux même de ta virginité glorieuse, tous les justes exultent, libérés de leur asservissement, et ceux qui sont morts avant ta mort vivifiante se réjouissent avec les anges parce qu'elle est refaite nouvelle leur ville démolie.

O femme pleine et surabondante de grâce, chaque créature reverdit, inondée du débordement de ta plénitude.

O Vierge bénie, par tes bénédictions chaque créature est bénie par son Créateur, et le Créateur est béni par chaque créature.

A Marie Dieu donna le Fils unique qu'il avait engendré de son sein égal à lui-même et qu'il aimait comme lui-même, et de Marie il modela le Fils, pas un autre mais le même, de manière que selon la nature ce fût le seul fils commun à Dieu et à Marie. Dieu créa chaque créature, et Marie engendra Dieu : Dieu qui avait tout créé se le fit lui-même créature de Marie, et a ainsi récréé tout ce qui avait créé. Et alors qu'il avait pu créer toutes les choses du néant, après leur ruine, il ne voulut pas les restaurer sans Marie. Celui qui a créé de rien toutes les choses n’a pas voulu les restaurer, après leur ruine, sans se faire d’abord fils de Marie.

Dieu est donc le Père des choses créées ; Marie est la mère des choses récréées.

Dieu est père de la fondation du monde, Marie la mère de sa réparation, car Dieu a engendré celui au moyen de qui tout a été fait, et Marie a accouché de celui par qui toutes les choses ont été sauvées.

Dieu a engendré celui sans qui absolument rien n'existe, et Marie a accouché de celui sans lequel rien n'est bien.

Vraiment le Seigneur est avec toi, lui qui voulut que toutes les créatures et lui-même avec te doivent tant. »



Prière à la mère du Dieu miséricordieux

Saint Anselme relie sans cesse Marie et Jésus :

« Quand j'ai péché contre le fils, j'ai irrité la mère ; on ne peut offenser la Mère sans faire injure au Fils. »

Oratio 51, PL 158, 951 B

Il les aime et les prie ensemble :

« O Fils bon, par l'amour avec lequel tu aimes ta Mère, accordes-moi, je t'en prie, de l'aimer vraiment comme tu l'aimes vraiment et comme tu veux qu'elle soit aimée.

O Mère bonne, par l'amour avec lequel tu aimes ton Fils, obtiens-moi, je t'en prie, de l'aimer vraiment comme tu l'aimes vraiment et comme tu veux qu'il soit aimé. »

Oratio 52, PL 158,959 A

Saint Anselme offre à Marie une prière très humble, il se sait pécheur

« Notre Dame, plus mes délits font horreur en présence de Dieu et devant toi, plus ils ont besoin de son intervention salutaire et de ton aide.

O très clémente, redresse donc mon infirmité et tu effaceras cette laideur qui t'offense. »

Oratio 50, PL 158,950 A

« Celui qui s'est rendu coupable devant le Dieu juste, se réfugie près de la Mère du Dieu miséricordieux ; celui qui a offensé le Mère, cherche refuge près du Fils plein de pitié d'une Mère bénigne. »

Oration 51, PL 158, 951 C

« Je te supplie, o Marie, par la grâce par laquelle le Seigneur est avec toi et voulut que tu fusses avec lui ; par cette grâce et en conformité avec elle, utilise à mes soins ta miséricorde.

Fais que j'aie toujours l'amour envers de toi et qu'en toi il y ait toujours la préoccupation à mon égard.

Fais que le souvenir de mon état de nécessité, tant qu'il persiste, te soit toujours présent ; et que la reconnaissance pour ta miséricorde soit toujours présente en moi tant que je vivrai. Fais en sorte que je me réjouisse toujours de ta béatitude ; aie compassion de ma misère, dans la mesure où je ne pourrais pas en tirer avantage.

Comme en effet, O Bienheureuse, quiconque s'éloigne de toi et devient rejeté de toi, va nécessairement à la perdition, de même quiconque s'adresse à toi et est reconnu de toi ne peut pas périr.

Comme en effet, O Notre Dame, Dieu engendre celui en qui toutes choses ont la vie, ainsi toi, o fleur de la virginité, tu as engendré celui par qui les morts acquièrent de nouveau la vie.

Et comme Dieu par son Fils a préservé du péché les anges bienheureux, de la même façon, O miroir de pureté, par ton Fils il a sauvé les hommes du péché. Le Fils de Dieu, en effet, est la béatitude des justes ; ainsi, O salut de la fécondité, ton Fils est la réconciliation des pécheurs. En effet il y n'a pas réconciliation différente de celle-là que tu as chastement conçu ; et il n'y a pas de justification autre que celle-là que tu as modelé dans ton sein virginal ; ni de salut différent de celui que tu as mis au monde.»

Oratio 52, PL 158,957 A

NB. : Les termes abstraits doivent être interprétés dans un sens concret: tu es la mère de la justification signifie qu'elle est la mère du Christ qui justifie.

GAMBERO Luigi, Marianum Rome.

Cf. L. GAMBERO, Maria nel pensiero dei teologi latini medievali, ed San Paolo, 2000, p. 125-134




La purification de Marie dans le sein maternel

Par analogie à la sanctification de Jean Baptiste dans le sein de sa mère, l'Eglise d'Angleterre avait cru, comme avant elle le croyaient aussi les pères grecs, à la présanctification de Marie dans le sein de sa mère par une intervention spéciale de Dieu. Saint Anselme partage cette foi en précisant que le péché originel est surtout une absence de la grâce dans l'âme de l'être humain. Une intervention particulière de Dieu restitue cette grâce pour Marie.

Saint Anselme ne croit pas encore en l'immaculée conception, mais sa doctrine aura une grande influence dans ce sens :

« Il convenait que cette Vierge resplendisse d'une pureté telle que, en dehors de Dieu, aucune ne puisse être pensée. »

De conceptu virginali, 18 , PL 158,451 A

Saint Anselme utilise un argument copié sur sa preuve de l'existence de Dieu, argument qui fut jugé non satisfaisant car il y a un saut qualitatif entre la pensée et l'être.

GAMBERO Luigi, Marianum Rome.

Cf. L. GAMBERO, Maria nel pensiero dei teologi latini medievali, ed San Paolo, 2000, p. 125-134


La résurrection, plénitude de vie

Pourquoi t'égarer si loin à la recherche des biens de ton âme et de ton corps ? Aime l'unique Bien dans lequel sont tous les biens ; cela suffit… C'est là-haut que se trouve tout ce que l'on peut aimer et désirer.

Est-ce la beauté que tu aimes ? « Les justes resplendiront comme le soleil » (Mt 13,43).

Est-ce l'agilité ou la force d'un corps libre et dégagé de tout obstacle ? « Ils seront comme les anges de Dieu »…

Est-ce une vie longue et saine ? Là-haut t'attend la santé éternelle, car « les justes vivront éternellement » (Sg 5,16)…

Désires-tu être rassasié ? Tu le seras quand Dieu te montrera son visage dans sa gloire (Ps 16,15).

Être enivré ? « Ils s'enivreront de l'abondance de la maison de Dieu » (Ps 35,9).

Est-ce un chant mélodieux que tu aimes ? Là-haut, les choeurs angéliques chantent sans fin la louange de Dieu.

Cherches-tu de très pures délices ? Dieu t'abreuvera au torrent de ses délices (Ps 35,9).

Aimes-tu la sagesse? La sagesse de Dieu se manifestera en personne.

L'amitié ? Ils aimeront Dieu plus qu'eux-mêmes, ils s'aimeront les uns les autres autant qu'eux-mêmes, et Dieu les aimera plus qu'ils pourront jamais aimer…

Aimes-tu la concorde ? Ils auront tous une seule volonté, car ils n'auront d'autre volonté que celle de Dieu…

Les honneurs et les richesses ? Dieu établira sur beaucoup de biens ses serviteurs bons et fidèles (Mt 25,21) ; bien plus, « ils seront appelés fils de Dieu » (Mt 5,9) et ils le seront réellement, car là où est le Fils, là aussi seront « les héritiers de Dieu et les cohéritiers du Christ » (Rm 8,17).

Saint Anselme (1033-1109), moine, évêque, docteur de l’Église

Proslogion, 25-26


Celle qui intercède et amène les saints à nous aider (St Anselme)

« Auguste Dame, ce que peuvent obtenir tous les saints par leurs prières réunies, vous l'obtenez sans eux par votre seule prière.

Mais pourquoi possédez-vous, à vous seule, un si grand pouvoir ?

Parce que vous seule êtes la Mère de notre commun Rédempteur, vous seule êtes l'Epouse du Seigneur, vous seule êtes la Reine universelle du ciel et de la terre.

Si vous ne parlez pas en notre faveur, aucun saint ne priera pour nous et ne nous aidera. Mais pour peu que vous le fassiez, tous s'empresseront de nous recommander au Seigneur et de nous venir en aide. »

Saint Anselme (1033-1109), Oratio 46



Romanelli. Recontre de saint Anselme et de la comtesse Mathilde 
devant saint Grégoire VII. XVIIe.

St Anselme, évêque, confesseur et docteur

Mort à Cantorbéry le 21 avril 1109. Culte autorisé par Alexandre VI sans canonisation préalable. En 1690, Alexandre VIII inscrit sa fête au calendrier comme semi-double. Clément XI l’élève au rite double en 1720 en déclarant St Anselme docteur de l’Église.

Leçons des Matines avant 1960

Quatrième leçon. Anselme naquit dans la ville d’Aoste, aux confins de l’Italie, de parents nobles et catholiques : son père s’appelait Gondulphe et sa mère Ermemberge. Dès ses tendres années, son application assidue à l’étude et son désir d’une vie plus parfaite firent clairement pressentir qu’il brillerait dans la suite par sa sainteté et sa science. S’il se laissa entraîner pendant quelque temps par la fougue de la jeunesse vers les séductions du monde, bientôt cependant, rappelé dans la bonne voie, il abandonna sa patrie et tous ses biens, et se rendit au monastère du Bec, de l’Ordre de saint Benoît. C’est là, qu’ayant fait sa profession religieuse sous Herluin, Abbé très zélé pour l’observance, et Lanfranc, maître très docte, il fit de tels progrès par la ferveur de son âme et par son ardeur constante pour l’étude et l’acquisition des vertus, que tous le regardèrent comme un modèle admirable de sainteté et de doctrine.

Cinquième leçon. Son abstinence et sa sobriété étaient si grandes que l’assiduité au jeûne semblait avoir détruit en lui presque tout sentiment du besoin de nourriture. Après avoir employé le jour aux exercices monastiques, à l’enseignement, et à répondre aux diverses questions qu’on lui adressait sur la religion, il dérobait la plus grande partie de la nuit au sommeil, pour donner une nouvelle vigueur à son âme par les méditations divines, auxquelles il ne se livrait jamais sans une grande abon dance de larmes. Élu prieur du monastère, il sut si bien se concilier par sa charité, son humilité et sa prudence, les frères qui lui étaient contraires, que de ces hommes, d’abord envieux, il fit ses amis et les amis de Dieu, au grand avantage de l’observance régulière. A la mort de l’Abbé, Anselme fut établi malgré lui à sa place. La réputation de sa science et de sa sainteté devint si éclatante en tous lieux, que non seulement il reçut des témoignages de vénération de la part des rois et des Évêques, mais qu’il fut honoré de l’amitié de saint Grégoire VII. Ce Pontife, éprouvé alors par de grandes persécutions, lui adressa des lettres pleines d’affection, dans lesquelles il recommandait à ses prières, et sa personne, et l’Église catholique.

Sixième leçon. Anselme, après la mort de Lanfranc, Archevêque de Cantorbéry, son ancien maître, se vit contraint par les pressantes sollicitations de Guillaume, roi d’Angleterre, et sur les instances du clergé et du peuple, à prendre en main le gouvernement de cette Église. Il s’appliqua aussitôt à réformer les mœurs relâchées de son peuple, employant d’abord à cet effet ses discours et ses exemples, et ensuite ses écrits ; il fit encore célébrer plusieurs conciles, et rétablit dans son diocèse la piété et la discipline ecclésiastique. Mais bientôt le même roi Guillaume, ayant tenté par la violence et les menaces d’usurper les droits de l’Église, Anselme lui résista avec une constance vraiment sacerdotale, et eut à souffrir la perte de ses biens et même l’exil, et se rendit à Rome auprès d’Urbain II. Ce Pape le reçut avec honneur, et le combla de louanges lorsque, au concile de Bari, Anselme soutint contre l’erreur des Grecs, par d’innombrables témoignages des Écritures et des saints Pères, que le Saint-Esprit procède aussi du Fils. Le roi Guillaume ayant quitté cette vie, le roi Henri, son frère, rappela Anselme en Angleterre, où le Saint s’endormit dans le Seigneur. Célèbre par ses miracles et sa sainteté, (dont le trait distinctif était une insigne dévotion pour la passion de notre Seigneur et envers la bienheureuse Vierge, sa Mère), célèbre aussi par sa doctrine très utile à la défense de la religion chrétienne, à ’avancement des âmes et à tous les théologiens qui ont traité de la science sacrée selon la méthode scolastique, Anselme paraît avoir puisé au ciel l’inspiration de tous ses ouvrages.

Dom Guéranger, l’Année Liturgique

Moine, Évêque et Docteur, Anselme réunit en sa personne ces trois grands apanages du chrétien privilégie ; et si l’auréole du martyre n’est pas venue apporter le dernier lustre à ce noble faisceau de tant de gloires, on peut dire que la palme a manqué à Anselme, mais qu’il n’a pas manqué à la palme. Son nom rappelle la mansuétude de l’homme du cloître unie à la fermeté épiscopale, la science jointe à la piété ; nulle mémoire n’a été à la fois plus douce et plus éclatante.

Le Piémont le donna à la France et à l’Ordre de saint Benoît. Anselme, dans l’abbaye du Bec, réalisa pleinement le type de l’Abbé tel que l’a tracé le Patriarche des moines d’Occident : « Plus servir que commander. » Il fut de la part de ses frères l’objet d’une affection sans égale, et dont l’expression est arrivée jusqu’à nous. Sa vie leur appartenait tout entière, soit qu’il s’appliquât à les conduire à Dieu, soit qu’il prît plaisir à les initier aux sublimes spéculations de son intelligence. Un jour il leur fut enlevé malgré tous ses efforts, et contraint de s’asseoir sur la chaire archiépiscopale de Cantorbéry. Successeur en ce siège des Augustin, des Dunstan, des Elphège, des Lanfranc, il fut digne de porter le pallium après eux, et par ses nobles exemples, il ouvrit la voie à l’illustre martyr Thomas qui lui succéda de si près.

Sa vie pastorale fut tout entière aux luttes pour la liberté de l’Église. En lui l’agneau revêtit la vigueur du lion. « Le Christ, disait-il, ne veut pas d’une esclave pour épouse ; il n’aime rien tant en ce monde que la liberté de son Église. » Le temps n’est plus où ce Fils de Dieu consentait à être enchaîné par d’indignes liens, afin de nous affranchir de nos péchés ; il est ressuscite glorieux, et il veut que son épouse soit libre comme lui. Dans tous les siècles, elle a à combattre pour cette liberté sacrée, sans laquelle elle ne pourrait remplir ici-bas le ministère de salut que son Époux divin lui a confié. Jaloux de son influence, les princes de la terre, qui n’ignorent pas qu’elle est reine, se sont ingéniés à lui créer mille entraves. De nos jours, un grand nombre de ses enfants ont perdu jusqu’à la notion des franchises auxquelles elles a droit : sans aucun souci de sa royauté, ils ne lui désirent d’autre liberté que celle qu’elle partagera avec les sectes qu’elle condamne ; ils ne peuvent comprendre que, dans de telles conditions, l’Église que le Christ a faite pour régner, est en esclavage. Ce n’est pas ainsi qu’Anselme l’entendait ; et tout enfant de l’Église doit avoir de telles utopies en horreur. Les grands mots de progrès et de société moderne ne sauraient le séduire ; il sait que l’Église n’a pas d’égale ici-bas ; et s’il voit le monde en proie aux plus terribles convulsions, incapable de s’asseoir désormais sur un fondement stable, tout s’explique pour lui par cette raison que l’Église n’est plus reine. Le droit de notre Mère n’est pas seulement d’être reconnue pour ce qu’elle est dans le secret de la pensée de chacun de ses fidèles ; il lui faut l’appui extérieur. Jésus lui a promis les nations en héritage ; elle les a possédées selon cette divine promesse ; mais aujourd’hui, s’il advient qu’un peuple la mette hors la loi, en lui offrant une égale protection avec toutes les sectes qu’elle a expulsées de son sein, mille acclamations se font entendre à la louange de ce prétendu progrès, et des voix connues et aimées, se mêlent à ces clameurs.

De telles épreuves furent épargnées à Anselme. La brutalité des rois normands était moins à redouter que ces systèmes perfides qui sapent par la base jusqu’à l’idée même de l’Église, et font regretter la persécution ouverte. Le torrent renverse tout sur son passage ; mais tout renaît aussi lorsque sa source est tarie. Il en est autrement quand les eaux débordées envahissent la terre en l’entraînant après elles. Tenons-le pour sûr : le jour où l’Église, la céleste colombe, n’aura plus ici-bas où poser son pied avec honneur, le ciel s’ouvrira, et elle prendra son vol pour sa patrie céleste, laissant le monde à la veille de voir descendre le juge du dernier jour.

Anselme docteur n’est pas moins admirable qu’Anselme pontife. Sa haute et tranquille intelligence se plut dans la contemplation des vérités divines ; elle en chercha les rapports et l’harmonie, et le produit de ces nobles labeurs occupe un rang supérieur dans le dépôt où se conservent les richesses de la théologie catholique. Dieu avait départi à Anselme le génie. Ses combats, sa vie agitée, ne purent le distraire de ses saintes et dures études, et, sur le chemin de ses exils, il allait méditant sur Dieu et ses mystères, étendant pour lui-même et pour la postérité le champ déjà si vaste des investigations respectueuses de la raison dans les domaines de la foi.

Nous insérons ici plusieurs Répons et Antiennes approuvés par le Siège apostolique en l’honneur de saint Anselme.

R/. Celui-ci est Anselme, illustre Docteur que Lanfranc a élevé ; c’est lui qui, étant pour les moines un père plein de tendresse, a été appelé à la mitre des pontifes ; * Et il a combattu vaillamment pour la liberté de la sainte Église, alléluia. V/. Il disait de sa voix indomptée que l’Épouse du Christ était libre, et non de condition servile ; * Et il a combattu vaillamment pour la liberté de la sainte Église, alléluia.

R/. Le bienheureux Anselme dit avec tristesse aux évêques : Vous voulez atteler à la charrue un taureau indompté et une faible brebis ; le taureau traînera la brebis dans les épines et les halliers, et la déchirera cruellement : * Et votre joie d’aujourd’hui se chan promptement en tristesse, alléluia. V/. Les tribulations m’attendent ; cependant je n’en crains aucune, pourvu que je consomme ma course. * Et votre joie d’aujourd’hui se chan promptement en tristesse, alléluia.

R/. Les Pères étant réunis dans le concile, le pontife Urbain s’écria : Anselme, archevêque des Anglais, notre Père et notre Maître, où es-tu ? * Monte jusqu’à nous, viens nous aider, et combats pour ta mère et la nôtre, alléluia. V/. Bénie soit ta sagesse, et bénies les paroles de ta bouche ! * Monte jusqu’à nous, viens nous aider, et combats pour ta mère et la nôtre, alléluia.

Ant. Anselme, agneau par la douceur, lion par le courage, comblé de la doctrine céleste, a éclairé les âmes, alléluia.

Ant. Le bienheureux Anselme instruisait les princes du siècle : Dieu, disait-il, n’aime rien plus en ce monde que la liberté de son Église, alléluia.

L’Hymne suivante a été approuvée aussi par le Saint-Siège.

HYMNE.

Le prélat plein de courage, le moine fidèle, le docteur ceint de la couronne, nous apparaît aujourd’hui ; chantons à l’envi pour la fête d’Anselme.

Il n’avait pas encore atteint les années de l’homme fait, qu’on le vit dédaigner avec sagesse la fleur de ce monde périssable ; il entra au désert, aspirant à recevoir les enseignements de Lanfranc.

Porté sur les ailes d’une ferme foi, il a pénétré les mystères intimes du Verbe divin ; quel autre a plongé plus avant jusqu’aux sources pures et mystérieuses de nos dogmes ?

Auguste père, on t’impose la charge d’Abbé ; tu te dévoiles avec amour à la famille qui t’est confiée ; les faibles, tu les portes sur tes épaules ; les fervents, tu les précèdes et les réchauffes par tes exhortations.

Le roi te défère la chaire des pontifes, ne redoute pas les luttes qui t’attendent ; les triomphes viendront après ; généreux exilé, tu éclaireras de ta lumière les nations lointaines.

La liberté sacrée que le Christ a acquise à ses brebis en les rachetant, qu’il préfère à tout, est la sainte passion d’Anselme : quel pontife surpassa jamais son courage à la défendre ?

Ta renommée, noble prélat, s’étend bientôt jusqu’à Rome : le Pontife suprême te défère les honneurs : l’intérêt de la foi te réclame : les Pèles du concile sont dans le silence de l’attente ; parle et détends la vérité attaquée.

Conserve le souvenir du saint troupeau ; daigne être son protecteur auprès de l’éternelle Trinité, à qui tous les siècles rendent honneur et gloire dans l’univers entier.

Amen.

O Anselme, Pontife aimé de Dieu et des hommes, la sainte Église, que vous avez servie ici-bas avec tant de zèle, vous rend aujourd’hui ses hommages comme à l’un de ses prélats les plus révérés. Imitateur de la bonté du divin Pasteur, nul ne vous surpassa en douceur, en condescendance, en charité. Vous connaissiez vos brebis, et vos brebis vous connaissaient ; veillant jour et nuit à leur garde, vous ne fûtes jamais surpris par l’arrivée du loup. Loin de fuir à son approche, vous allâtes au-devant, et aucune violence n’eut le pouvoir de vous faire reculer. Héroïque champion de la liberté de l’Église, protégez-la en nos temps, où elle est presque partout foulée et comme anéantie. Suscitez en tous lieux des Pasteurs émules de votre sainte indépendance, afin que le courage se ranime dans le cœur des brebis, et que tout chrétien se fasse honneur de confesser qu’il est avant tout membre de l’Église, qu’a ses veux les intérêts de cette Mère des âmes sont supérieurs à ceux de toute société terrestre.

Le Verbe divin vous avait doué, ô Anselme, de cette philosophie toute chrétienne qui s’abaisse devant les vérités de la foi, et, purifiée par l’humilité, s’élève aux vues les plus sublimes. Éclairée de vos lumières si pures, la sainte Église, dans sa reconnaissance, vous a décerné le titre de Docteur, réservé si longtemps à ces savants hommes qui vécurent aux premiers âges du christianisme, et conservent dans leurs écrits comme un reflet de la prédication des Apôtres. Votre doctrine a été jugée digne d’être réunie à celle des anciens Pères ; car elle procède du même Esprit ; elle est fille de la prière, plus encore que de la pensée. Obtenez, ô saint Docteur, que sur vos traces, notre foi cherche aussi l’intelligence. Beaucoup aujourd’hui blasphèment ce qu’ils ignorent, et beaucoup aussi ignorent ce qu’ils croient. De là une confusion désolante, des compromis périlleux entre la vérité et l’erreur, la seule vraie doctrine méconnue, abandonnée et demeurant sans défense. Demandez pour nous, ô Anselme, des docteurs qui sachent éclairer les sentiers de la vérité et dissiper les nuages de l’erreur, afin que les enfants de l’Église ne restent plus exposés à la séduction.

Jetez un regard, ô saint Pontife, sur la famille religieuse qui vous accueillit dans ses rangs, au sortir des vanités du siècle, et daignez étendre sur elle votre protection. C’est dans son sein que vous avez puisé la vie de l’âme et la lumière de l’intelligence. Fils du grand Benoît, ayez souvenir de vos hères. Bénissez-les en France, où vous avez embrassé la règle monastique ; bénissez-les en Angleterre, où vous avez été Primat entre les pontifes sans cesser d’être moine. Priez, ô Anselme, pour les deux nations qui vous ont adopté tour à tour. Chez l’une, la foi s’est tristement affaiblie ; chez l’autre, l’hérésie règne en souveraine. Sollicitez pour toutes les deux les miséricordes du Seigneur. Il est puissant, et ne ferme pas son oreille aux supplications de ses saints. S’il a résolu dans sa justice de ne pas rendre à ces deux nations leur antique constitution chrétienne, obtenez du moins que beaucoup d’âmes se sauvent, que de nombreux retours consolent la Mère commune, que les derniers ouvriers de la vigne rivalisent de zèle avec les premiers, en attendant le jour où le Maître descendra pour rendre à chacun selon ses œuvres.

Bhx Cardinal Schuster, Liber Sacramentorum

Saint anselme a presque droit de cité dans le Missel romain car il résida quelque temps à Rome, et, au Concile de Bari destiné à combattre le schisme des Grecs, il fut le meilleur appui d’Urbain II dans la lutte contre l’erreur. De nos jours, Léon XIII fit élever sur le mont Aventin, en l’honneur du saint docteur de Cantorbéry, une insigne basilique, annexée au grand collège universitaire de l’Ordre bénédictin qui compte le Saint parmi ses plus glorieux représentants. En l’honneur de ce grand docteur, qui eut le mérite de préparer la voie, en quelque sorte, à l’édifice théologique de l’Aquinate, l’hymnaire bénédictin contient cette belle ode saphique :

Sur son lit de mort, Léon XIII composa des vers en l’honneur de saint Anselme, et il les fit porter aussitôt à l’Abbé de sa nouvelle basilique aventine, comme un dernier gage de la dévotion qu’il nourrissait envers le grand docteur et l’Ordre bénédictin qui l’avait formé.

La messe est celle du [1].

Cet illustre confesseur de la foi et de la liberté de l’Église, fugitif et exilé, trouva à Rome, comme autrefois saint Athanase, et chez le bienheureux Urbain II, accueil bienveillant et protection. L’histoire a enregistré comme un titre spécial de gloire pour sa mémoire une de ses paroles, énergique et pleine de foi en même temps : « Dieu n’aime rien davantage en ce monde que la liberté de son Église. »

[1] Commun des Docteurs->306

Dom Pius Parsch, le Guide dans l’année liturgique

Réformons-nous d’abord nous-mêmes.

Saint Anselme. — Jour de mort : 21 avril 1109. Tombeau : dans la cathédrale de Cantorbéry. Image : On le représente en évêque et docteur de l’Église, contemplant l’apparition du Christ et de la Sainte Vierge. Vie : Saint Anselme, évêque de Cantorbéry et primat d’Angleterre, naquit en 1033 et mourut le 21 avril 1109. Prieur et abbé, il fit de l’abbaye du Bec un centre de véritable réforme pour la Normandie et l’Angleterre. De cette abbaye, il exerça une influence durable sur les papes, les rois, les puissances civiles et des Ordres entiers. Devenu primat d’Angleterre, il mena un combat héroïque pour les droits et la liberté de l’Église. Il y perdit ses biens et ses dignités et connut même l’exil. Il se rendit à Rome auprès du pape Urbain Il qu’il soutint au concile de Bari contre les erreurs des Grecs. Ses écrits témoignent de la hauteur de son esprit ainsi que de sa sainteté ; ils lui méritèrent le nom de père de la scolastique.

Pratique : Saint Anselme est un des vrais réformateurs de l’Église. La vraie réforme commence par soi-même. Saint Anselme se mit le premier à l’école sévère de la mortification. Il était ensuite apte et autorisé à corriger les autres. — La messe est du commun d’un docteur (In medio).

SOURCE : http://www.introibo.fr/21-04-St-Anselme-eveque-confesseur#nh1


BENEDICT XVI

GENERAL AUDIENCE

Paul VI Audience Hall

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Saint Anselm

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Benedictine Abbey of Sant'Anselmo [St Anselm] is located on the Aventine Hill in Rome. As the headquarters of an academic institute of higher studies and of the Abbot Primate of the Confederated Benedictines it is a place that unites within it prayer, study and governance, the same three activities that were a feature of the life of the Saint to whom it is dedicated: Anselm of Aosta, the ninth anniversary of whose death occurs this year. The many initiatives promoted for this happy event, especially by the Diocese of Aosta, have highlighted the interest that this medieval thinker continues to rouse. He is also known as Anselm of Bec and Anselm of Canterbury because of the cities with which he was associated. Who is this figure to whom three places, distant from one another and located in three different nations Italy, France, England feel particularly bound? A monk with an intense spiritual life, an excellent teacher of the young, a theologian with an extraordinary capacity for speculation, a wise man of governance and an intransigent defender of libertas Ecclesiae, of the Church's freedom, Anselm is one of the eminent figures of the Middle Ages who was able to harmonize all these qualities, thanks to the profound mystical experience that always guided his thought and his action.

St Anselm was born in 1033 (or at the beginning of 1034) in Aosta, the first child of a noble family. His father was a coarse man dedicated to the pleasures of life who squandered his possessions. On the other hand, Anselm's mother was a profoundly religious woman of high moral standing (cf. Eadmer, Vita Sancti Anselmi, PL 159, col. 49). It was she, his mother, who saw to the first human and religious formation of her son whom she subsequently entrusted to the Benedictines at a priory in Aosta. Anselm, who since childhood as his biographer recounts imagined that the good Lord dwelled among the towering, snow-capped peaks of the Alps, dreamed one night that he had been invited to this splendid kingdom by God himself, who had a long and affable conversation with him and then gave him to eat "a very white bread roll" (ibid., col. 51). This dream left him with the conviction that he was called to carry out a lofty mission. At the age of 15, he asked to be admitted to the Benedictine Order but his father brought the full force of his authority to bear against him and did not even give way when his son, seriously ill and feeling close to death, begged for the religious habit as a supreme comfort. After his recovery and the premature death of his mother, Anselm went through a period of moral dissipation. He neglected his studies and, consumed by earthly passions, grew deaf to God's call. He left home and began to wander through France in search of new experiences. Three years later, having arrived in Normandy, he went to the Benedictine Abbey of Bec, attracted by the fame of Lanfranc of Pavia, the Prior. For him this was a providential meeting, crucial to the rest of his life. Under Lanfranc's guidance Anselm energetically resumed his studies and it was not long before he became not only the favourite pupil but also the teacher's confidante. His monastic vocation was rekindled and, after an attentive evaluation, at the age of 27 he entered the monastic order and was ordained a priest. Ascesis and study unfolded new horizons before him, enabling him to rediscover at a far higher level the same familiarity with God which he had had as a child.

When Lanfranc became Abbot of Caen in 1063, Anselm, after barely three years of monastic life, was named Prior of the Monastery of Bec and teacher of the cloister school, showing his gifts as a refined educator. He was not keen on authoritarian methods; he compared young people to small plants that develop better if they are not enclosed in greenhouses and granted them a "healthy" freedom. He was very demanding with himself and with others in monastic observance, but rather than imposing his discipline he strove to have it followed by persuasion. Upon the death of Abbot Herluin, the founder of the Abbey of Bec, Anselm was unanimously elected to succeed him; it was February 1079. In the meantime numerous monks had been summoned to Canterbury to bring to their brethren on the other side of the Channel the renewal that was being brought about on the continent. Their work was so well received that Lanfranc of Pavia, Abbot of Caen, became the new Archbishop of Canterbury. He asked Anselm to spend a certain period with him in order to instruct the monks and to help him in the difficult plight in which his ecclesiastical community had been left after the Norman conquest. Anselm's stay turned out to be very fruitful; he won such popularity and esteem that when Lanfranc died he was chosen to succeed him in the archiepiscopal See of Canterbury. He received his solemn episcopal consecration in December 1093.

Anselm immediately became involved in a strenuous struggle for the Church's freedom, valiantly supporting the independence of the spiritual power from the temporal. Anselm defended the Church from undue interference by political authorities, especially King William Rufus and Henry I, finding encouragement and support in the Roman Pontiff to whom he always showed courageous and cordial adherence. In 1103, this fidelity even cost him the bitterness of exile from his See of Canterbury. Moreover, it was only in 1106, when King Henry I renounced his right to the conferral of ecclesiastical offices, as well as to the collection of taxes and the confiscation of Church properties, that Anselm could return to England, where he was festively welcomed by the clergy and the people. Thus the long battle he had fought with the weapons of perseverance, pride and goodness ended happily. This holy Archbishop, who roused such deep admiration around him wherever he went, dedicated the last years of his life to the moral formation of the clergy and to intellectual research into theological topics. He died on 21 April 1109, accompanied by the words of the Gospel proclaimed in Holy Mass on that day: "You are those who have continued with me in my trials; as my Father appointed a kingdom for me, so do I appoint for you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom..." (Lk 22: 28-30). So it was that the dream of the mysterious banquet he had had as a small boy, at the very beginning of his spiritual journey, found fulfilment. Jesus, who had invited him to sit at his table, welcomed Anselm upon his death into the eternal Kingdom of the Father.

"I pray, O God, to know you, to love you, that I may rejoice in you. And if I cannot attain to full joy in this life may I at least advance from day to day, until that joy shall come to the full" (Proslogion, chapter 14). This prayer enables us to understand the mystical soul of this great Saint of the Middle Ages, the founder of scholastic theology, to whom Christian tradition has given the title: "Magnificent Doctor", because he fostered an intense desire to deepen his knowledge of the divine Mysteries but in the full awareness that the quest for God is never ending, at least on this earth. The clarity and logical rigour of his thought always aimed at "raising the mind to contemplation of God" (ibid., Proemium). He states clearly that whoever intends to study theology cannot rely on his intelligence alone but must cultivate at the same time a profound experience of faith. The theologian's activity, according to St Anselm, thus develops in three stages: faith, a gift God freely offers, to be received with humility; experience, which consists in incarnating God's word in one's own daily life; and therefore true knowledge, which is never the fruit of ascetic reasoning but rather of contemplative intuition. In this regard his famous words remain more useful than ever, even today, for healthy theological research and for anyone who wishes to deepen his knowledge of the truths of faith: "I do not endeavour, O Lord, to penetrate your sublimity, for in no wise do I compare my understanding with that; but I long to understand in some degree your truth, which my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, that unless I believed, I should not understand" (ibid., 1).

Dear brothers and sisters, may the love of the truth and the constant thirst for God that marked St Anselm's entire existence be an incentive to every Christian to seek tirelessly an ever more intimate union with Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. In addition, may the zeal full of courage that distinguished his pastoral action and occasionally brought him misunderstanding, sorrow and even exile be an encouragement for Pastors, for consecrated people and for all the faithful to love Christ's Church, to pray, to work and to suffer for her, without ever abandoning or betraying her. May the Virgin Mother of God, for whom St Anselm had a tender, filial devotion, obtain this grace for us. "Mary, it is you whom my heart yearns to love", St Anselm wrote, "it is you whom my tongue ardently desires to praise".


To special groups:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors present at today's Audience, including the members of the Australian Girls Choir and the school groups from Norway and Scotland. I ask you to join me in praying that my imminent Visit to the Czech Republic will bear many spiritual fruits, and upon all of you and your families, I invoke God's Blessings of joy and peace!

My thoughts now turn to the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. May the witness of faith and charity that motivated St Pius of Pietrelcina, whom we are commemorating today, encourage you, dear young people, to plan your future as a generous service to God and neighbour. May it help you, dear sick people, to experience in your suffering the support and comfort of the Crucified Christ. And may it impel you, dear newlyweds, to keep your family constantly attentive to the poor. Lastly, may the example of this Saint who is so popular be for priests in this Year for Priests and for all Christians an invitation to trust in God's goodness always, confidently receiving and celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation, of which the Saint of the Gargano who tirelessly dispensed divine mercy was an assiduous and faithful minister.


© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


SOURCE : http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2009/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20090923_en.html

St. Anselm

Archbishop of Canterbury, Doctor of the Church; born at Aosta a Burgundian town on the confines of Lombardy, died 21 April, 1109.


His father, Gundulf, was a Lombard who had become a citizen of Aosta, and his mother, Ermenberga, came of an old Burgundian family. Like many other saints, Anselm learnt the first lessons of piety from his mother, and at a very early age he was fired with the love of learning. In after life he still cherished the memories of childhood, and his biographer, Eadmer, has preserved some incidents which he had learnt from the saint's own lips. The child had heard his mother speak of God, Who dwelt on high ruling all things. Living in the mountains, he thought that Heaven must be on their lofty summits. "And while he often revolved these matters in his mind, it chanced that one night he saw in a vision that he must go up to the summit of the mountain and hasten to the court of God, the great King. But before he began to ascend the mountain, he saw in the plain through which he had passed to its foot, women, who were the King's handmaidens, reaping the corn; but they were doing this very negligently and slothfully. Then, grieving for their sloth, and rebuking them, he bethought him that he would accuse them before their Lord and King. Thereafter, having climbed the mountain he entered the royal court. There he found the King with only his cupbearer. For it seemed that, as it was now Autumn, the King had sent his household to gather the harvest. As the boy entered he was called by the Master, and drawing nigh he sat at his feet. Then with cheery kindliness he was asked who and whence he was and what he was seeking. To these questions he made answer as well as he knew. Then at the Master'scommand some moist white bread was brought him by the cupbearer and he feasted thereon in his presence, wherefore when morning came and he brought to mind the things he had seen, as a simpler and innocent child he believed that he had truly been fed in heaven with the bread of the Lord, and this he publicly affirmed in the presence of others". (Eadmer, Life of St. Anselm, I, i.) Eadmer adds that the boy was beloved by all and made rapid progress in learning. Before he was fifteen he sought admission to a monastery. But the abbot,fearing the father's displeasure, refused him. The boy then made a strange prayer. He asked for an illness, thinking this would move the monks to yield to his wishes. The illness came but his admission to themonastery was still denied him. None the less he determined to gain his end at some future date. But ere long he was drawn away by the pleasures of youth and lost his first ardour and his love of learning. His lovefor his mother in some measure restrained him. But on her death it seemed that his anchor was lost, and he was at the mercy of the waves.

At this time his father treated him with great harshness; so much so that he resolved to leave his home. Taking a single companion, he set out on foot to cross Mont Cenis. At one time he was fainting with hunger and was fain to refresh his strength with snow, when the servant found that some bread was still left in the baggage, and Anselm regained strength and continued the journey. After passing nearly three years inBurgundy and France, he came into Normandy and tarried for a while at Avranches before finding his home at the Abbey of Bec, then made illustrious by Lanfranc's learning. Anselm profited so well by the lessons of this master that he became his most familiar disciple and shared in the work of teaching. After spending some time in this labour, he began to think that his toil would have more merit if he took the monastic habit. But at first he felt some reluctance to enter the Abbey of Bec, where he would be overshadowed by Lanfranc. After atime, however, he saw that it would profit him to remain where he would be surpassed by others. His father was now dead, having ended his days in the monastic habit, and Anselm had some thought of living on his patrimony and relieving the needy. The life of a hermit also presented itself to him as a third alternative. Anxious to act with prudence he first asked the advice of Lanfranc, who referred the matter to the Archbishopof Rouen. This prelate decided in favour of the monastic life, and Anselm became a monk in the Abbey of Bec. This was in 1060. His life as a simple monk lasted for three years, for in 1063 Lanfranc was appointed Abbotof Caen, and Anselm was elected to succeed him as Prior. There is some doubt as to the date of this appointment. But Canon Poree points out that Anselm, writing at the time of his election as Archbishop(1093), says that he had then lived thirty three years in the monastic habit, three years as a monk without preferment, fifteen as prior, and fifteen as abbot (Letters of Anselm, III, vii). This is confirmed by an entry in the chronicle of the Abbey of Bec, which was compiled not later than 1136. Here it is recorded that Anselmdied in 1109, in the forty-ninth year of his monastic life and the seventy-sixth of his age, having been three years a simple monk; fifteen, prior; fifteen, abbot; and sixteen archbishop (Poree, Histoire de l'abbaye de Bec, III, 173). At first his promotion to the office vacated by Lanfranc gave offence to some of the other monkswho considered they had a better claim than the young stranger. But Anselm overcame their opposition by gentleness, and ere long had won their affection and obedience. To the duties of prior he added those of teacher. It was likewise during this period that he composed some of his philosophical and theological works, notably, the "Monologium" and the "Proslogium". Besides giving good counsel to the monks under his care, he found time to comfort others by his letters. Remembering his attraction for the solitude of a hermitage we can hardly wonder that he felt oppressed by this busy life and longed to lay aside his office and give himself up to the delights of contemplation. But the Archbishop of Rouen bade him retain his office and prepare for yet greater burdens.

This advice was prophetic, for in 1078, on the death of Herluin, founder and first Abbot of Bec Anselm waselected to succeed him. It was with difficulty that the monks overcame his reluctance to accept the office. His biographer, Eadmer, gives us a picture of a strange scene. The Abbot-elect fell prostrate before the brethren and with tears besought them not to lay this burden on him, while they prostrated themselves and earnestly begged him to accept the office. His election at once brought Anselm into relations with England, where theNorman abbey had several possessions. In the first year of his office, he visited Canterbury where he was welcomed by Lanfranc. "The converse of Lanfranc and Anselm", says Professor Freeman, "sets before us a remarkable and memorable pair. The lawyer, the secular scholar, met the divine and the philosopher; theecclesiastical statesman stood face to face with the saint. The wisdom, conscientious no doubt but still hard and worldly, which could guide churches and kingdoms in troublous times was met by the boundless love which took in all God's creatures of whatever race or species" (History of the Norman Conquest, IV, 442). It is interesting to note that one of the matters discussed on this occasion related to a Saxon archbishop, Elphage(&#AElig;lfheah), who had been put to death by the Danes for refusing to pay a ransom which would impoverish his people. Lanfranc doubted his claim to the honours of a martyr since he did not die for the Faith. But Anselm solved the difficulty by saying that he who died for this lesser reason would much more be ready to die for the Faith. Moreover, Christ is truth and justice and he who dies for truth and justice dies for Christ. It was on this occasion that Anselm first met Eadmer, then a young monk of Canterbury. At the same time thesaint, who in his childhood was loved by all who knew him, and who, as Prior of Bec, had won the affection of those who resisted his authority, was already gaining the hearts of Englishmen. His fame had spread far and wide, and many of the great men of the age prized his friendship and sought his counsel. Among these wasWilliam the Conqueror, who desired that Anselm might come to give him consolation on his death-bed.

When Lanfranc died, William Rufus kept the See of Canterbury vacant for four years, seized its revenues, and kept the Church in England in a state of anarchy. To many the Abbot of Bec seemed to be the man best fitted for the archbishopric. The general desire was so evident that Anselm felt a reluctance to visit England lest it should appear that he was seeking the office. At length, however, he yielded to the entreaty of Hugh, Earl ofChester and came to England in 1092. Arriving in Canterbury on the eve of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, he was hailed by the people as their future archbishop; but he hastened away and would in no wise consent to remain for the festival. At a private interview with the King, who received him kindly, he spoke freely on theevils by which the land was made desolate. Anselm's own affairs kept him in England for some months, but when he wished to return to Bec the King objected. Meanwhile the people made no secret of their desires. With the King's permission prayers were offered in all the churches that God would move the King to deliver the Church of Canterbury by the appointment of a pastor, and at the request of the bishops Anselm drew up the form of prayer. The King fell ill early in the new year (1093), and on his sick-bed he was moved torepentance. The prelates and barons urged on him the necessity of electing an archbishop. Yielding to the manifest desire of all he named Anselm, and all joyfully concurred in the election. Anselm, however, firmly refused the honour, whereupon another scene took place still more strange than that which occurred when he was elected abbot. He was dragged by force to the King's bedside, and a pastoral staff was thrust into his closed hand; he was borne thence to the altar where the "Te Deum" was sung. There is no reason to suspect the sincerity of this resistance. Naturally drawn to contemplation, Anselm could have little liking for such an office even in a period of peace; still less could he desire it in those stormy days. He knew full well what awaited him. The King's repentance passed away with his sickness and Anselm soon saw signs of trouble. His first offence was his refusal to consent to the alienation of Church lands which the King had granted to his followers. Another difficulty arose from the King's need of money. Although his see was impoverished by the royal rapacity, the Archbishop was expected to make his majesty a free gift; and when he offered five hundred marks they were scornfully refused as insufficient. As if these trials were not enough Anselm had to bear the reproaches of some of the monks of Bec who were loath to lose him; in his letters he is at pains to show that he did not desire the office. He finally was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury 4 December, 1093. It now remained for him to go to Rome to obtain the pallium. But here was a fresh occasion of trouble. The Antipope Clement was disputing the authority of Urban II, who had been recognized by France and Normandy. It does not appear that the English King was a partisan of the Antipope, but he wished to strengthen his own position by asserting his right to decide between the rival claimants. Hence, when Anselm asked leave to go to thePope, the King said that no one in England should acknowledge either Pope till he, the King, had decided thematter. The Archbishop insisted on going to Pope Urban, whose authority he had already acknowledged, and, as he had told the King, this was one of the conditions on which alone he would accept the archbishopric. This grave question was referred to a council of the realm held at Rockingham in March, 1095. Here Anselm boldly asserted the authority of Urban. His speech is a memorable testimony to the doctrine of papal supremacy. It is significant that not one of the bishops could call it in question (Eadmer, Historia Novorum, lib. I). RegardingAnselm's belief on this point we may cite the frank words of Dean Hook: "Anselm was simply a papist — Hebelieved that St. Peter was the Prince of the Apostles — that as such he was the source of all ecclesiasticalauthority and power; that the pope was his successor; and that consequently, to the pope was due, from thebishops and metropolitans as well as from the rest of mankind, the obedience which a spiritual suzerain has the right to expect from his vassals" [Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury (London, 18(i0-75), II, 183].

William now sent envoys to Rome to get the pallium. They found Urban in possession and recognized him. Walter, Bishop of Albano, came back with them as legate bearing the pallium. The King publicly acknowledged the authority of Urban, and at first endeavoured to get Anselm deposed by the legate. Eventually a reconciliation was occasioned by the royal difficulties in Wales and in the north. The King and the Archbishopmet in peace. Anselm would not take the pallium from the King's hand; but in a solemn service at Canterburyon 10 June, 1095 it was laid on the altar by the legate, whence Anselm took it. Fresh trouble arose in 1097. On returning from his ineffectual Welsh campaign William brought a charge against the Archbishop in regard to the contingent he had furnished and required him to meet this charge in the King's court. Anselm declined and asked leave to go to Rome. This was refused, but after a meeting at Winchester Anselm was told to be ready to sail in ten days. On parting with the King, the Archbishop gave him his blessing, which William received with bowed head. At St. Omer's Anselm confirmed a multitude of persons. Christmas was spent at Cluny, and the rest of the winter at Lyons. In the spring he resumed his journey and crossed Mont Cenis with two companions all travelling as simple monks. At the monasteries on their way they were frequently asked for news of Anselm. On his arrival in Rome he was treated with great honour by the Pope. His case was considered and laid before the council, but nothing could be done beyond sending a letter of remonstrance toWilliam. During his stay in Italy Anselm enjoyed the hospitality of the Abbot of Telese, and passed the summer in a mountain village belonging to this monastery. Here he finished his work, "Cur Deus Homo", which he had begun in England. In October, 1098, Urban held a council at Bari to deal with the difficulties raised by the Greeks in regard to the procession of the Holy Ghost. Here Anselm was called by the Pope to a place ofhonour and bidden to take the chief part in the discussion. His arguments were afterwards committed to writing in his treatise on this subject. His own case was also brought before this council, which would haveexcommunicated William but for Anselm's intercession. Both he and his companions now desired to return toLyons, but were bidden to await the action of another council to be held in the Lateran at Easter. Here Anselmheard the canons passed against Investitures, and the decree of excommunication against the offenders. This incident had a deep influence on his career in England.

While still staying in the neighbourhood of Lyons, Anselm heard of the tragic death of William. Soon messages from the new king and chief men of the land summoned him to England. Landing at Dover, he hastened to King Henry at Salisbury. He was kindly received, but the question of Investitures was at once raised in an acute form. Henry required the Archbishop himself to receive a fresh investiture. Anselm alleged the decrees of the recent Roman council and declared that he had no choice in the matter. The difficulty was postponed, as the King decided to send to Rome to ask for a special exemption. Meanwhile, Anselm was able to render the King two signal services. He helped to remove the obstacle in the way of his marriage with Edith, the heiress of the Saxon kings. The daughter of St. Margaret had sought shelter in a convent, where she had worn the veil, but had taken no vows. It was thought by some that this was a bar to marriage, but Anselm had the case considered in a council at Lambeth where the royal maiden's liberty was fully established, and the Archbishophimself gave his blessing to the marriage. Moreover, when Robert landed at Portsmouth and many of theNorman nobles were wavering in their allegiance, it was Anselm who turned the tide in favour of Henry. In the meantime Pope Paschal had refused the King's request for an exemption from the Lateran decrees, yet Henrypersisted in his resolution to compel Anselm to accept investiture at his hands. The revolt of Robert de Bellesme put off the threatened rupture. To gain time the King sent another embassy to Rome. On its return,Anselm was once more required to receive investiture. The Pope's letter was not made public, but it was reported to be of the same tenor as his previous reply. The envoys now gave out that the Pope had orallyconsented to the King's request, but could not say so in writing for fear of offending other sovereigns. Friendsof Anselm who had been at Rome, disputed this assertion. In this crisis it was agreed to send to Rome again; meanwhile the King would continue to invest bishops and abbots, but Anselm should not be required toconsecrate them.

During this interval Anselm held a council at Westminster. Here stringent canons were passed against theevils of the age. In spite of the compromise about investiture, Anselm was required to consecrate bishopsinvested by the King, but he firmly refused, and it soon became evident that his firmness was taking effect.Bishops gave back the staff they had received at the royal hands, or refused to be consecrated by another in defiance of Anselm. When the Pope's answer arrived, repudiating the story of the envoys, the King askedAnselm to go to Rome himself. Though he could not support the royal request he was willing to lay the facts before the Pope. With this understanding he once more betook himself to Rome. The request was again refused, but Henry was not excommunicated. Understanding that Henry did not wish to receive him in England,Anselm interrupted his homeward journey at Lyons. In this city he received a letter from the Pope informing him of the excommunication of the counsellors who had advised the King to insist on investitures, but notdecreeing anything about the King. Anselm resumed his journey, and on the way he heard of the illness ofHenry's sister, Adela of Blois. He turned aside to visit her and on her recovery informed her that he was returning to England to excommunicate her brother. She at once exerted herself to bring about a meeting between Anselm and Henry, in July, 1105. But though a reconciliation was effected, and Anselm was urged to return to England, the claim to invest was not relinquished, and recourse had again to be made to Rome. Apapal letter authorizing Anselm to absolve from censures incurred by breaking the laws against investitureshealed past offences but made no provision for the future. At length, in a council held in London in 1107, the question found a solution. The King relinquished the claim to invest bishops and abbots, while the Church allowed the prelates to do homage for their temporal possessions. Lingard and other writers consider this a triumph for the King, saying that he had the substance and abandoned a mere form. But it was for no mereform that this long war had been waged. The rite used in the investiture was the symbol of a real power claimed by the English kings, and now at last abandoned. The victory rested with the Archbishop, and as Schwane says (Kirchenlexicon, s.v.) it prepared the way for the later solution of the same controversy in Germany. Anselm was allowed to end his days in peace. In the two years that remained he continued hispastoral labours and composed the last of his writings. Eadmer, the faithful chronicler of these contentions, gives a pleasing picture of his peaceful death. The dream of his childhood was come true; he was to climb the mountain and taste the bread of Heaven.

His active work as a pastor and stalwart champion of the Church makes Anselm one of the chief figures inreligious history. The sweet influence of his spiritual teaching was felt far and wide, and its fruits were seen in many lands. His stand for the freedom of the Church in a crisis of medieval history had far-reaching effects long after his own time. As a writer and a thinker he may claim yet higher rank, and his influence on the course of philosophy and Catholic theology was even deeper and more enduring if he stands on the one hand with Gregory VII, and Innocent III, and Thomas Becket; on the other he may claim a place beside Athanasius,Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas. His merits in the field of theology have received official recognition; he has been declared a Doctor of the Church by Clement XI, 1720, and in the office read on his feast day (21 April) it is said that his works are a pattern for all theologians. Yet it may be doubted whether his position is generally appreciated by students of divinity. In some degree his work has been hidden by the fabric reared on his foundations. His books were not adopted, like those of Peter Lombard and St. Thomas, as the usual text ofcommentators and lecturers in theology, nor was he constantly cited as an authority, like St. Augustine. This was natural enough, since in the next century new methods came in with the rise of the Arabic and Aristotelean philosophy; the "Books of Sentences" were in some ways more fit for regular theological reading;Anselm was yet too near to have the venerable authority of the early Fathers. For these reasons it may be said that his writings were not properly appreciated till time had brought in other changes in the schools, andmen were led to study the history of theology. But though his works are not cast in the systematic form of the "Summa" of St. Thomas, they cover the whole field of Catholic doctrine. There are few pages of our theologythat have not been illustrated by the labours of Anselm. His treatise on the procession of the Holy Spirit has helped to guide scholastic speculations on the Trinity, his "Cur Deus Homo" throws a flood of light on thetheology of the Atonement, and one of his works anticipates much of the later controversies on Free Will andPredestination. In the seventeenth century, a Spanish Benedictine, Cardinal d'Aguirre made the writings ofAnselm the groundwork of a course of theology, "S. Anselmi Theologia" (Salamanca, 1678-81). Unfortunately the work never got beyond the first three folio volumes, containing the commentaries on the "Monologium". In recent years Dom Anselm Öcsényi, O.S.B. has accomplished the task on a more modest scale in a little Latinvolume on the theology of St. Anselm, "De Theologia S. Anselmi" (Brünn, 1884).

Besides being one of the fathers of scholastic theology, Anselm fills an important place in the history ofphilosophic speculation. Coming in the first phase of the controversy on Universals, he had to meet the extreme Nominalism of Roscelin; partly from this fact, partly from his native Platonism his Realism took what may be considered a somewhat extreme form. It was too soon to find the golden mean of moderate Realism, accepted by later philosophers. His position was a stage in the process and it is significant that one of his biographers, John of Salisbury, was among the first to find the true solution.

Anselm's chief achievement in philosophy was the ontological argument for the existence of God put forth in his "Proslogium". Starting from the notion that God is "that than which nothing greater can be thought", he argues that what exists in reality is greater than that which is only in the mind; wherefore, since "God is that than which nothing greater can be thought", He exists in reality. The validity of the argument was disputed at the outset by a monk named Gaunilo, who wrote a criticism on it to which Anselm replied. Eadmer tells a curious story about St. Anselm's anxiety while he was trying to work out this argument. He could think of nothing else for days together. And when at last he saw it clearly, he was filled with joy, and made haste to commit it to writing. The waxen tablets were given in charge to one of the monks but when they were wanted they were missing. Anselm managed to recall the argument, it was written on fresh tablets and given into safer keeping. But when it was wanted it was found that the wax was broken to Pieces. Anselm with some difficulty put the fragments together and had the whole copied on parchment for greater security. The story sounds like an allegory of the fate which awaited this famous argument, which was lost and found again, pulled to pieces and restored in the course of controversy. Rejected by St. Thomas and his followers, it was revived in another form by Descartes. After being assailed by Kant, it was defended by Hegel, for whom it had a peculiar fascination — he recurs to it in many parts of his writings. In one place he says that it is generally used by later philosophers, "yet always along with the other proofs, although it alone is the true one" (German Works, XII, 547). Assailants of this argument should remember that all minds are not cast in one mould, and it is easy to understand how some can feel the force of arguments that are not felt by others. But if this proofwere indeed, as some consider it, an absurd fallacy, how could it appeal to such minds as those of Anselm,Descartes, and Hegel? It may be well to add that the argument was not rejected by all the great Schoolmen. It was accepted by Alexander of Hales (Summa, Pt. I, Q. iii, memb. 1, 2), and supported by Scotus. (In I, Dist. ii, Q. ii.) In modern times it is accepted by Möhler, who quotes Hegel's defence with approval.

It is not often that a Catholic saint wins the admiration of German philosophers and English historians. ButAnselm has this singular distinction Hegel's appreciation of his mental powers may be matched by Freeman's warm words of praise for the great Archbishop of Canterbury. "Stranger as he was, he has won his place among the noblest worthies of our island. It was something to be the model of all ecclesiastical perfection; it was something to be the creator of the theology of Christendom — but it was something higher still to be the very embodiment of righteousness and mercy, to be handed down in the annals of humanity as the man whosaved the hunted hare and stood up for the holiness of &#AElig;lfheah" (History of the Norman Conquest, IV, 444).

Collections of the works of St. Anselm were issued soon after the invention of printing. Ocsenyi mentions nine earlier than the sixteenth century. The first attempt at a critical edition was that of Th. Raynaud, S.J.* (Lyons, 1630), which rejects many spurious works, e.g. the Commentaries on St. Paul. The best editions are those ofDom Gerberon, O.S.B. (Paris, 1675, 1721; Venice 1744, Migne, 1845). Most of the more important works have also been issued separately — thus the "Monologium" is included in Hurter's "Opuscula SS. Patrum" and published with the "Proslogium" by Haas (Tübingen). There are numerous separate editions of the "Cur Deus Homo" and of Anselm's "Prayers and Meditations"; these last were done into English by Archbishop Laud(1638), and there are French and German versions of the "meditationes" and the "Monologium". "Cur Deus Homo" has also been translated into English and German — see also the translations by Deane (Chicago, 1903). For Anselm's views on education, see ABBEY OF BEC.

Sources

The chief sources for Anselm's life are his own letters and the two biographical works of his friend, disciple, and secretary, Eadmer, monk of Canterbury, and Bishop-elect of St. Andrews. Eadmers's Historia Nonorum may be called the "Life and Times of St. Anselm"; his Vita S. Anselmi gives the inner life of the saint. Also, there is a brief account of the miracles of St. Anselm which is also ascribed to Eadmer, but its authorship is doubtful. Other early writers on Anselm, such as John of Salisbury, add some new details, but their account of the Saint is largely drawn from Eadmer.

Kent, William. "St. Anselm." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 20 Apr. 2015<http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01546a.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Tomas Hancil and Joseph P. Thomas.


Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.



Anselm of Canterbury, OSB B, Doctor (RM)

Born in Aosta, Piedmont, Italy, c. 1033; died at Canterbury, England, on Holy Wednesday, April 21, 1109; canonized and included among the Doctors of the Church by Pope Clement XI in 1720.


"O Lord our God,
grant us grace to desire Thee with our whole heart;
that, so desiring, we may seek,
and, seeking, find Thee;
and so finding Thee, may love Thee;
and loving Thee, may hate those sins
from which Thou hast redeemed. Amen."


--Saint Anselm


In the days of the Normans, when the roads of Europe were crowded with pilgrims and when monasteries rose on every hand, a band of wandering Italian scholars from Lombardy under the leadership of Blessed Abbot Lanfranc of Bec, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, found their way to Avranches in Normandy where they founded the most famous school in Christendom. Among these scholars and by far the most distinguished was Anselm of Aosta, whose youth had been spent in the green Alpine valleys and clear mountain air.

Anselm was a poet and a dreamer, who carried always about him something of the grandeur of his native hills. It seemed that Anselm's native intelligence might have died on the vine had he continued his education at home, but he was allowed to study later at the abbey at Aosta, where he flowered.

This first phase of his monastic education was to instill into his life an indelible fragrance. Anselm prayed and sought God on the summit of the mountains that surrounded the city of Aosta. Already his whole personality was formed: a seeker always in search of God, posing questions to which only the faith gives answers and clarifying his faith through a mind that was ceaselessly avid for new insights.
At age 15, Anselm wished to enter a monastery, but his father Gondulf, a Lombard nobleman, disapproved and prevented it. (His mother, Ermenberge, was related to the marquis of Turin and the House of Savoy.) Anselm fell gravely ill as a result. Then, unable to fulfill his dream and without spiritual support after the death of his mother, Anselm turned to the worldly which his father introduced to him.

After his complete victory, Gondulf should have been satisfied. But life defies all hopes. Instead, Gondulf developed a tenacious hatred of his son, who had been progressing along the path on which his father had set him. It was this situation that Anselm left with his home in 1056 to study in Burgundy.

While studying in Burgundy under the abbot Blessed Herluin, he became a disciple of the then prior Lanfranc and became a monk at Bec in 1060. Despite his youth (age 30), succeeded Lanfranc as prior only three years later when Lanfranc was elected abbot of Saint Stephen's in Caen. It must have been hard for one so young and inexperienced in religious life to rule his elders. But Anselm countered rudeness with gentleness, hatred with clarity, anger with an unchangeable patience.

He also had a keen and original mind. In 1078, upon the death of Herluin, founder of the abbey, the monks chose Anselm to succeed him. Anselm's marvelous erudition, his eminent virtue, and, above all, his gentleness and goodness conferred a striking prestige on him, so that many foreign monks came to place themselves under his direction. This was the origin of a vast correspondence that has been handed down to us, in which Anselm shows himself open to all needs, responds to all questions, understands all concerns. He instructed, corrected, reformed, and proposed using all means, the exact conception of monastic life which he never ceased to live at its deepest level.

The position of abbot required him to travel often to England to inspect abbey property there. In 1092, the English clergy, who had come to know him over the years, nominated Anselm to succeed Lanfranc, who had died three years earlier, in the see of Canterbury. At first, Anselm, busy with his studies and absorbed in the writing of theology, resisted the call, until he was dragged to the sick-bed of the king at Gloucester, and the pastoral staff was forced into his unwilling hand.

To the astonishment of the King William II (William Rufus), he met his match in Anselm. When Anselm finally left Bec in 1093 and arrived again in England, they king refused to allow Anselm to call the needed synods. Anselm also was confronted with a demand for a gift to the royal exchequer of 500 pounds for the king's approval of his nomination. Anselm rejected the request and rounded on the king. "Treat me as a free man," he said, "and I devote myself and all that I have to your service; but if you treat me as a slave, you shall have neither me nor mine." This resulted in Anselm's banishment from court. While some bishops supported the king, barons rallied to Anselm's cause. He left the country, and was not recalled until the following reign.

During this period Anselm retired to a mountain village where he spent the time happily in writing his great work on the Atonement, Cur Deus homo?, an attempt to explain why God had been obliged to become man in Jesus. Anselm argued that if God had merely forgiven men's sins, His mercy would have conflicted with the demands of justice. To reconcile mercy and justice an offering was needed greater than men's disobedience. Only God could make such an offering, argued Anselm, but only man ought to. Therefore, only a God-made-man could and should make it--as Jesus did on the Cross.
In 1097, Anselm travelled to Rome, where Pope Urban I upheld Anselm's nomination, refused Anselm's offered resignation, and ordered King William II to permit Anselm's return and yield back confiscated Church property.

At the pope's request, Anselm was present at the Council of Bari in 1098 and defended the filioque, the controversial doctrine on the procession of the Holy Spirit. He was instrumental in resolving the doubts of the Greek bishops in southern Italy about this issue.

At an Easter conference the indignation of Christendom was expressed at his enforced exile: "One is sitting among us from the ends of the earth, in modest silence, still and meek. But his silence is a loud cry. This one man has come here in his cruel wrongs to ask for the judgment and equity of the Apostolic See. And this is the second year, and what help has he found? If you do not all know what I mean, it is Anselm, Archbishop of England." And with these words, the bishop of Lucca, who was the speaker, struck his staff violently on the floor.

Anselm returned to Canterbury in 1100 at the request of King Henry II, successor to William Rufus, landing at Dover five months later. Almost immediately the king and Anselm were at odds over lay investiture--the new king demanded his re-induction as archbishop, but Anselm boldly refused. Anselm returned to Rome in 1103, where he confronted the pope on this issue. Pope Paschal II supported Anselm's refusal of lay investiture of bishops to King Henry. Nevertheless, Anselm remained in Rome until about 1106 or 1107.

A compromise was struck when Henry renounced his right to the investiture of bishops and abbots and Anselm agreed to pay homage to the king for temporal possessions. The reconciliation lasted for the rest of Anselm's life. The king grew to trust Anselm so much that he made him regent while he was away in Normandy in 1108.

In 1102, at a national council in Westminster, Anselm vigorously denounced slavery in emulation of Saint Wulfstan. As a pastor he encouraged the ordination of native Englishmen among his clergy, for whom he enforced celibacy; and he restored to the calendar the names of some of the English saints that he predecessor Lanfranc had removed.

Anselm stands out as a link between Saint Augustine of Hippo and Saint Thomas Aquinas and is called the 'father of Scholasticism.' He preferred to defend the faith by intellectual reason rather than scriptural arguments.

As the first to successfully incorporate the rationalism of Aristotlelian dialectics into theology, Anselm wrote on the existence of God in Monologium and Proslogium (deduces God's existence from man's notion of a perfect being, which influenced later great thinkers such as Duns Scotus, Descartes, and Hegel). His Cur Deus homo? was the most prominent treatise on the Atonement and Incarnation ever written. Other writings include De fide Trinitatis, De conceptu de virginali, Liber apologeticus pro insipiente, De veritate, letters, prayers, and meditations.

Anselm also rediscovered the precious maternal influence, lost since childhood, with her whom Jesus has given us for a mother. She inspired his most beautiful prayers. She gave him the soul of a child. She guided him in his constant search for God. One might think of Anselm as an old, dried up theologian. But that would be an error. Anselm's intellectual rigor was softened by the sensitivity of his mind and the generosity of his heart. He wrote, "I want to understand something of the truth which my heart believes and loves. I do not seek thus to understand in order to believe, but I believe in order that I may understand."

Anselm was one of the most human of saint and balanced of monks. Perhaps his early wanderings helped to form him so. Even after nine centuries, the charm of his personality still radiates. He himself was aware of the attraction that he held over those around him. He recognized it without any evasiveness: "All the good people who have known me have loved me, and all the more so when they knew me at close hand."

As a statesman he was deficient: the monastery, not the court, was where he was comfortable. Many incidents recorded of his life testify to the attractiveness of his personal character. In the Paradiso (canto XII), Dante mentions him among the spirits of light and power in the Sphere of the Sun.

Thus Anselm, the man who never wished to be archbishop and who refused it at first with clenched hands, secured the freedom of the Church against lawless tyranny and secular obstruction in a despotic age. As a statesman and scholar, by his courage and patience, and in grace and piety, he was the outstanding ecclesiastic of his day. His biography was written by his own secretary, the monk Eadmer of Christ Church, Canterbury, who recorded Anselm's life in meticulous detail (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Church, Encyclopedia, Gill, Southern, White).

In art, Anselm is depicted as an archbishop or a Benedictine monk, (1) admonishing an evildoer; (2) with Our Lady or Virgin and Child appearing to him; (3) with a ship; or (4) exorcising a monk (Roeder, White). He is venerated at Aosta and Turin (Roeder).


SOURCE : http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0421.shtml

St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury

by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1876

Anselm, the celebrated Archbishop of Canterbury, in England, was born in Piedmont in the year 1033. He was gifted by nature with brilliant talents and a large, comprehensive mind. When he was hardly fifteen years of age he was desirous of entering upon a religious life, but he was not, admitted, as it was feared that it would provoke the wrath of his father and his noble relatives. This refusal was so deeply regretted by Anselm, that he fell into a grievous illness, which renewed his determination to enter a monastery. On his recovery, however, he forgot his resolution, and not only did he lose all inclination to enter the religious state, but he began to lead a much more worldly life than he had done previously. It was fortunate for him that, to a certain extent, he had lost his father's love and was treated by him rather harshly. Not being able to endure this, Anselm left home, hoping that his absence might restore to him his father's affection. He therefore proceeded to France, where he remained three years. Suddenly his desire to study, which had lain dormant in his mind so long, was reawakened, and hearing that the celebrated Doctor Lanfranc, his compatriot, instructed young men in sacred science, in an abbey not far distant, he went to him and begged to be admitted among the number of his disciples. Lanfranc consented, and Anselm made such rapid progress in his studies that he soon left all others behind him.

During this time, he renewed his zeal in the practice of piety and virtue, and also his determination to give his life entirely to the Almighty. In pursuance of it, he received the habit, at the age of twenty-seven, in the Abbey of St. Benedict, where he had studied; and after having passed through his novitiate he took his vows. How eanestly he strove after spiritual perfection is evident from the fact, that three years after he had taken the vows, he succeeded Lanfranc, his teacher, as Prior of the same abbey, the latter being called as Abbot to another monastery. Several, who had been longer in the order than he, envied and persecuted him on account of his promotion, but the exquisite gentleness, patience and humility of Anselm soon won him all hearts; and changed envy and jealousy into love and respect. His holy life added much to their veneration. He fasted almost daily, and his body became fearfully emaciated. By his constant mortification he lost all relish for food. During the day, he instructed others in sacred science and in the mysteries of the faith. The greater part of the night he passed in prayer and meditation. He attended, before all his other affairs, to the sick, day and night, and wherever he was needed. He fed them, and lifted them in and out of their beds with his own hands. The most tender devotion he bore to our crucified Saviour, and often wept bitterly when he thought how our Redeemer, notwithstanding all His sufferings for us, is so frequently and so deeply offended. His aversion to sin was so intense, that he several times said that he would rather cast himself into hell, than commit a mortal sin. He shunned carefully the least thing that he thought was displeasing to God; because nothing is little which offends the Most High, and often from something which appears in itself of small importance, eternal happiness or damnation depends. He also was much devoted to the Blessed Virgin, and was one of the first who defended by the pen her Immaculate Conception. Besides this, he wrote many other works in praise of the Divine Mother, and endeavored to incite others to pay her due honors.

After the death of the Abbot, Anselm was unanimously elected as his successor, although he did what he could to prevent it. Invested with this new dignity, he changed not in the least his mode of life, unless he was more fervent than ever in all his devotional exercises. The fame of his sanctity and erudition spread abroad daily more and more, so that he was not only esteemed by the prelates of the Church, as well as by kings, but also by Pope Gregory VII, who, harassed on account of the sad condition of the Church at that period, recommended himself several times to the prayers of the Saint. Some business appertaining to his convent called Anselm to England, and as his name was already well known there, he was everywhere received with the greatest honor. While he was, in England, Lanfranc, who after being instructor to Anselm, had become Abbot and then Archbishop of Canterbury, died; and the king, without hesitation, chose St. Anselm to be his successor, and although the Saint most earnestly declined, he was at last obliged to yield to the influences of the clergy. He shed many bitter tears during his consecration, but once installed in his new functions, he went zealously to work to change the depraved manners of the people by preaching, writing instructive works and holding Councils.

Everything was going well, when the king himself caused great disturbances. He took forcible possession of a great deal of property belonging to the Church, and would not consent that, during the division which at that time existed in the Church, any one else but himself should be regarded as the head thereof. St. Anselm courageously protected the rights and liberties of the Church, and opposed, with manly independence, the wicked oppression and evil designs of the king. Hence the unscrupulous counsellors of the king persecuted him, banished his friends, deprived him of his revenues, and tormented him in manifold ways, thinking thus to intimidate him, and make him pliable to the king's wishes. But they were mistaken. The Saint remained inflexible, and was willing rather to die than in the least to swerve from his duty. Believing that the wrath of the king would be sooner appeased if another occupied his See, he went to Rome and humbly requested the Pope to release him from his Archbishopric. The Pope, however, refusing his request, endeavored to reconcile him with the king, and meanwhile made use of the knowledge and talents of the holy man in his warfare against the heretics and schismatics. After sometime, Anselm went to Lyons, in France, to escape the honors which were tendered to him at Rome. While there, King William of England, who had so violently resented the Saint's protection of the rights of the Church, died an unhappy death. He was hunting, and the excitement was just at its height, when the fatal arrow of a French officer piercing his heart, sent him, without a moment for repentance, into eternity. Indescribably grieved was St. Anselm on nearing this news, and he said more than once, that he would willingly give his life, if with his blood he could save the soul of the unhappy monarch. Before the intelligence of the king's death had reached Lyons, Hugh, the holy Abbot of Cluny, said to St. Anselm : "King William stands accused before the judgment seat of the Most High, and is already judged and sentenced to the eternal fire."

On the death of King William, the crown fell to his son Henry, who, warned by the example of his father, endeavored to ameliorate matters. He abolished the intolerable investitures, was gracious and kind to all, would neither have anything to do with the property of the Church, nor lay hands on the income of the clergy. As he knew how great the consideration was that St. Anselm enjoyed among all right-minded people, he recalled him to England and received him very graciously. But this behavior was of short duration, and before long the Archbishop had again to make a journey to Rome to seek protection for the rights of the Church, which Henry, like his father, commenced to violate. The Pope granted the Saint all he requested, all that justice demanded, but when the king heard of it, he forbade the Archbishop to return to his See. Anslem, therefore, repairing once more to Lyons, remained there sixteen months. While there he daily celebrated the Holy Mass, and offered many prayers and penances for the conversion of the king and the salvation of the whole land. Meanwhile all England wished for the return of her sheph§rd, and the king's sister rested not in her endeavors until her brother was appeased and allowed him to come back. After the holy man had returned to his See, he strove with all his energy to employ his few remaining years for the benefit of his flock. Thus he passed three peaceful years.

When he was no longer able to say Mass, he caused himself to be carried into the Church, that he might at least be present at the holy sacrifice, for which he had always evinced the deepest veneration. After having received the holy sacraments on Wednesday in Holy week, he requested to be laid, clad in a penitential robe, on the ground upon ashes, and while they read to him the Passion of our Lord, he peacefully expired, in the seventy-sixth year of his age. The many miracles which were wrought at his tomb caused the fame of his sanctity to be spread abroad through the whole of the Christian world.

Practical Considerations

I. St. Anselm had such a deep horror for sin that he used to say: "If I saw on one side, sin, and on the other, hell, and were compelled to choose between them, much rather would I cast myself sinless into hell, than commit the sin." He feared sin more than hell. Thus speak and judge those who know what sin is, and how great its wickedness. How do you speak and judge of sin? How great is your horror of it? Your conduct is your answer. You thoughtlessly commit one sin after another, perhaps to avert a slight injury, or a small temporal evil, or to gain some trifling advantage, or obtain some fleeting pleasure. Would you thus act, if you had a real horror of sin? Surely not. But why have you no real horror of sin? The whole reason is, I believe, simply this: You do not comprehend its indescribable wickedness. If you understood it rightly you would despise it as much as Anselm and all other Saints have done. Pray, therefore, like the blind man in the Gospel, fervently to God: "Lord, that I may see" (Luke xviii.). Give me grace to come to the knowledge of the wickedness, the horror of sin. "The beginning of salvation is to know our sins and to weep over them: "writes St. Jerome.

II. St. Anselm abhorred not only mortal sins, but also venial sins: not only because they also offend the Majesty of God, but also, because eternal happiness or misery often depends on what seems to be but trifling. From this, draw for today the following lesson. The damnation of a man often depends on what appears to be but a trifle; as, for instance, when one commits a venial sin voluntarily, not immediately chasing away wicked thoughts, or omitting to do a good action. A man who does this may go on gradually, until he commits a great sin and goes to perdition. The damnation of many a man began with what he thought a trifle. St. Chrysostom is of opinion that the damnation of Cain and Saul began with small offenses. Cain sacrificed to God only things, of little value, and when he saw that the offering of Abel was more acceptable to God than his own, he became jealous, killed his brother, and ended in despair and damnation. Had his sacrifice been such as to please the Lord, the rest would not have followed; he would not have committed the crime, and not have gone to hell. In the case of King Saul, an act of disobedience--apparently small--was the beginning of sins so great, that they ended in eternal damnation; as the above-mentioned holy teacher says.

As the death of the body is often occasioned by the merest trifle, as, for instance, by drinking cold water when over-heated, or by a slight wound, so sometimes a small act is the first step to eternal destruction. The neglect of being present at a sermon seems to be a slight omission, but I have no doubt it was for many the beginning of their eternal damnation. If they had heard the sermon, they would have come to the knowledge of their iniquity, and might have done penance. Having neglected it, they remained in their sin and have lost heaven. The same may be said of other trifling things. What, however, is the result? St. Chrysostom answers this question in the following manner: "Those who fall into the greatest sins, began with committing small ones. Therefore we must avoid not only great sins, but also those that are small, yes, shun whatever in the least leads to wrong, doing and never omitting, either by carelessness or idleness, the good we may be able to perform."

Prayer of Saint Anselm to the Blessed Virgin Mary

We beseech thee, O most Holy Lady, by the favour that God did thee, in raising thee so high as to make all things possible to thee, with Him, so to act, that the plenitude of grace, which thou didst merit, may render us partakers of thy glory. Strive, O most merciful Lady, to obtain us that for which God was pleased to become man in thy chaste womb. O lend us a willing ear. If thou deignest to pray to thy Son for this, He will immediately grant it. It suffices that thou willest our salvation, and then we are sure to obtain it. But who can restrain thy great mercy? If thou, who art our Mother, and the Mother of Mercy, dost not pity us, what will become of us when thy Son comes to judge us?

Help us then, O most compassionate Lady, and consider not the multitude of our sins. Remember always that our Creator took human flesh of thee, not to condemn sinners, but to save them. If thou hadst become Mother of God only for thine own advantage, we might say that it signified little to thee whether we were lost or saved: but God clothed himself with thy flesh for thy salvation, and for that of all men. What would thy great power and glory avail us, if thou dost not make us partakers of thy happiness? O help us then and protect us: thou knowest how greatly we stand in need of thy assistance. We recommend ourselves to thee; oh, let us not lose our souls, but make us eternally serve and love thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

The image for this page was provided courtesy of G. Hagedorn via Wiki Commons licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.




Saint Anselm

First published Thu May 18, 2000; substantive revision Tue Sep 25, 2007

Saint Anselm of Canterbury (1033–1109) was the outstanding Christian philosopher and theologian of the eleventh century. He is best known for the celebrated “ontological argument” for the existence of God in chapter two of the Proslogion, but his contributions to philosophical theology (and indeed to philosophy more generally) go well beyond the ontological argument. In what follows I examine Anselm's theistic proofs, his conception of the divine nature, and his account of human freedom, sin, and redemption.

• 1. Life and Works

• 2. The Theistic Proofs

o 2.1 “Faith Seeking Understanding”: The character and purpose of Anselm's theistic proofs

o 2.2 The arguments of the Monologion

o 2.3 The argument of the Proslogion

• 3. The Divine Nature

o 3.1 Proving the divine attributes

o 3.2 The consistency of the divine attributes

• 4. Freedom, Sin, and Redemption

o 4.1 Truth in statements and in the will

o 4.2 Freedom and sin

o 4.3 Grace and redemption

• Bibliography

o Critical Edition

o Translations

o Secondary Works (...)

1. Life and Works

Anselm was born in 1033 near Aosta, in those days a Burgundian town on the frontier with Lombardy. Little is known of his early life. He left home at twenty-three, and after three years of apparently aimless travelling through Burgundy and France, he came to Normandy in 1059. Once he was in Normandy, Anselm's interest was captured by the Benedictine abbey at Bec, whose famous school was under the direction of Lanfranc, the abbey's prior. Lanfranc was a scholar and teacher of wide reputation, and under his leadership the school at Bec had become an important center of learning, especially in dialectic. In 1060 Anselm entered the abbey as a novice. His intellectual and spiritual gifts brought him rapid advancement, and when Lanfranc was appointed abbot of Caen in 1063, Anselm was elected to succeed him as prior. He was elected abbot in 1078 upon the death of Herluin, the founder and first abbot of Bec. Under Anselm's leadership the reputation of Bec as an intellectual center grew, and Anselm managed to write a good deal of philosophy and theology in addition to his teaching, administrative duties, and extensive correspondence as an adviser and counsellor to rulers and nobles all over Europe and beyond. His works while at Bec include the Monologion (1075–76), the Proslogion (1077–78), and his four philosophical dialogues: De grammatico (1059–60), De veritate, and De libertate arbitrii, and De casu diaboli (1080–86).

In 1093 Anselm was enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury. The previous Archbishop, Anselm's old master Lanfranc, had died four years earlier, but the King, William Rufus, had left the see vacant in order to plunder the archiepiscopal revenues. Anselm was understandably reluctant to undertake the primacy of the Church of England under a ruler as ruthless and venal as William, and his tenure as Archbishop proved to be as turbulent and vexatious as he must have feared. William was intent on maintaining royal authority over ecclesiastical affairs and would not be dictated to by Archbishop or Pope or anyone else. So, for example, when Anselm went to Rome in 1097 without the King's permission, William would not allow him to return. When William was killed in 1100, his successor, Henry I, invited Anselm to return to his see. But Henry was as intent as William had been on maintaining royal jurisdiction over the Church, and Anselm found himself in exile again from 1103 to 1107. Despite these distractions and troubles, Anselm continued to write. His works as Archbishop of Canterbury include the Epistola de Incarnatione Verbi (1094), Cur Deus Homo (1095–98), De conceptu virginali (1099), De processione Spiritus Sancti (1102), the Epistola de sacrificio azymi et fermentati (1106–7), De sacramentis ecclesiae (1106–7), and De concordia (1107–8). Anselm died on 21 April 1109. He was canonized in 1494 and named a Doctor of the Church in 1720.

2. The Theistic Proofs

2.1 “Faith Seeking Understanding”: The character and purpose of Anselm's theistic proofs

Anselm's motto is “faith seeking understanding” (fides quaerens intellectum). This motto lends itself to at least two misunderstandings. First, many philosophers have taken it to mean that Anselm hopes to replace faith with understanding. If one takes ‘faith’ to mean roughly ‘belief on the basis of testimony’ and ‘understanding’ to mean ‘belief on the basis of philosophical insight’, one is likely to regard faith as an epistemically substandard position; any self-respecting philosopher would surely want to leave faith behind as quickly as possible. The theistic proofs are then interpreted as the means by which we come to have philosophical insight into things we previously believed solely on testimony. But as argued in Williams 1996 (xiii-xiv), Anselm is not hoping to replace faith with understanding. Faith for Anselm is more a volitional state than an epistemic state: it is love for God and a drive to act as God wills. In fact, Anselm describes the sort of faith that “merely believes what it ought to believe” as “dead” (M 78). (For the abbreviations used in references, see the Bibliography below.) So “faith seeking understanding” means something like “an active love of God seeking a deeper knowledge of God.”

Other philosophers have noted that “faith seeking understanding” begins with “faith,” not with doubt or suspension of belief. Hence, they argue, the theistic arguments proposed by faith seeking understanding are not really meant to convince unbelievers; they are intended solely for the edification of those who already believe. This too is a misreading of Anselm's motto. For although the theistic proofs are borne of an active love of God seeking a deeper knowledge of the beloved, the proofs themselves are intended to be convincing even to unbelievers. Thus Anselm opens the Monologion with these words:

If anyone does not know, either because he has not heard or because he does not believe, that there is one nature, supreme among all existing things, who alone is self-sufficient in his eternal happiness, who through his omnipotent goodness grants and brings it about that all other things exist or have any sort of well-being, and a great many other things that we must believe about God or his creation, I think he could at least convince himself of most of these things by reason alone, if he is even moderately intelligent. (M 1)

And in the Proslogion Anselm sets out to convince “the fool,” that is, the person who “has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’ ” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1).

2.2 The arguments of the Monologion

Having clarified what Anselm takes himself to be doing in his theistic proofs, we can now examine the proofs themselves. In the first chapter of the Monologion Anselm argues that there must be some one thing that is supremely good, through which all good things have their goodness. For whenever we say that different things are F in different degrees, we must understand them as being F through F-ness; F-ness itself is the same in each of them. Thus, for example, all more or less just things “must be more or less just through justice, which is not different in diverse things” (M 1). Now we speak of things as being good in different degrees. So by the principle just stated, these things must be good through some one thing. Clearly that thing is itself a great good, since it is the source of the goodness of all other things. Moreover, that thing is good through itself; after all, if all good things are good through that thing, it follows trivially that that thing, being good, is good through itself. Things that are good through another (i.e., things whose goodness derives from something other than themselves) cannot be equal to or greater than the good thing that is good through itself, and so that which is good through itself is supremely good. Anselm concludes, “Now that which is supremely good is also supremely great. There is, therefore, some one thing that is supremely good and supremely great—in other words, supreme among all existing things” (M 1). In chapter 2 he applies the principle of chapter 1 in order to derive (again) the conclusion that there is something supremely great.

In chapter 3 Anselm argues that all existing things exist through some one thing. Every existing thing, he begins, exists either through something or through nothing. But of course nothing exists through nothing, so every existing thing exists through something. There is, then, either some one thing through which all existing things exist, or there is more than one such thing. If there is more than one, either (i) they all exist through some one thing, or (ii) each of them exists through itself, or (iii) they exist through each other. (iii) makes no sense. If (ii) is true, then “there is surely some one power or nature of self-existing that they have in order to exist through themselves” (M 3); in that case, “all things exist more truly through that one thing than through the several things that cannot exist without that one thing” (M 3). So (ii) collapses into (i), and there is some one thing through which all things exist. That one thing, of course, exists through itself, and so it is greater than all the other things. It is therefore “best and greatest and supreme among all existing things” (M 3).

In chapter 4 Anselm begins with the premise that things “are not all of equal dignity; rather, some of them are on different and unequal levels” (M 4). For example, a horse is better than wood, and a human being is more excellent than a horse. Now it is absurd to think that there is no limit to how high these levels can go, “so that there is no level so high that an even higher level cannot be found” (M 4). The only question is how many beings occupy that highest level of all. Is there just one, or are there more than one? Suppose there are more than one. By hypothesis, they must all be equals. If they are equals, they are equals through the same thing. That thing is either identical with them or distinct from them. If it is identical with them, then they are not in fact many, but one, since they are all identical with some one thing. On the other hand, if that thing is distinct from them, then they do not occupy the highest level after all. Instead, that thing is greater than they are. Either way, there can be only one being occupying the highest level of all.

Anselm concludes the first four chapters by summarizing his results :

Therefore, there is a certain nature or substance or essence who through himself is good and great and through himself is what he is; through whom exists whatever truly is good or great or anything at all; and who is the supreme good, the supreme great thing, the supreme being or subsistent, that is, supreme among all existing things. (M 4)

He then goes on (in chapters 5–65) to derive the attributes that must belong to the being who fits this description. But before we look at Anselm's understanding of the divine attributes, we should turn to the famous proof in the Proslogion.

2.3 The argument of the Proslogion

Looking back on the sixty-five chapters of complicated argument in the Monologion, Anselm found himself wishing for a simpler way to establish all the conclusions he wanted to prove. As he tells us in the preface to the Proslogion, he wanted to find

a single argument that needed nothing but itself alone for proof, that would by itself be enough to show that God really exists; that he is the supreme good, who depends on nothing else, but on whom all things depend for their being and for their well-being; and whatever we believe about the divine nature. (P, preface)

That “single argument” is the one that appears in chapter 2 of the Proslogion. (We owe the curiously unhelpful name “ontological argument” to Kant. The medievals simply called it “Anselm's” argument [ratio Anselmi].)

The proper way to state Anselm's argument is a matter of dispute, and any detailed statement of the argument will beg interpretative questions. But on a fairly neutral or consensus reading of the argument (which I shall go on to reject), Anselm's argument goes like this. God is “that than which nothing greater can be thought”; in other words, he is a being so great, so full of metaphysical oomph, that one cannot so much as conceive of a being who would be greater than God. The Psalmist, however, tells us that “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’ ” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1). Is it possible to convince the fool that he is wrong? It is. All we need is the characterization of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought.” The fool does at least understand that definition. But whatever is understood exists in the understanding, just as the plan of a painting he has yet to execute already exists in the understanding of the painter. So that than which nothing greater can be thought exists in the understanding. But if it exists in the understanding, it must also exist in reality. For it is greater to exist in reality than to exist merely in the understanding. Therefore, if that than which nothing greater can be thought existed only in the understanding, it would be possible to think of something greater than it (namely, that same being existing in reality as well). It follows, then, that if that than which nothing greater can be thought existed only in the understanding, it would not be that than which nothing greater can be thought; and that, obviously, is a contradiction. So that than which nothing greater can be thought must exist in reality, not merely in the understanding.

Versions of this argument have been defended and criticized by a succession of philosophers from Anselm's time through the present day (see ontological arguments). Our concern here is with Anselm's own version, the criticism he encountered, and his response to that criticism. A monk named Gaunilo wrote a “Reply on Behalf of the Fool,” contending that Anselm's argument gave the Psalmist's fool no good reason at all to believe that that than which nothing greater can be thought exists in reality. Gaunilo's most famous objection is an argument intended to be exactly parallel to Anselm's that generates an obviously absurd conclusion. Gaunilo proposes that instead of “that than which nothing greater can be thought” we consider “that island than which no greater can be thought.” We understand what that expression means, so (following Anselm's reasoning) the greatest conceivable island exists in our understanding. But (again following Anselm's reasoning) that island must exist in reality as well; for if it did not, we could imagine a greater island—namely, one that existed in reality—and the greatest conceivable island would not be the greatest conceivable island after all. Surely, though, it is absurd to suppose that the greatest conceivable island actually exists in reality. Gaunilo concludes that Anselm's reasoning is fallacious.

Gaunilo's counterargument is so ingenious that it stands out as by far the most devastating criticism in his catalogue of Anselm's errors. Not surprisingly, then, interpreters have read Anselm's reply to Gaunilo primarily in order to find his rejoinder to the Lost Island argument. Sympathetic interpreters (such as Klima 2000) have offered ways for Anselm to respond, but at least one commentator (Wolterstorff 1993) argues that Anselm offers no such rejoinder, precisely because he knew Gaunilo's criticism was unanswerable but could not bring himself to admit that fact.

A more careful look at Anselm's reply to Gaunilo, however, shows that Anselm offered no rejoinder to the Lost Island argument because he rejected Gaunilo's interpretation of the original argument of the Proslogion. Gaunilo had understood the argument in the way I stated it above. Anselm understood it quite differently. In particular, Anselm insists that the original argument did not rely on any general principle to the effect that a thing is greater when it exists in reality than when it exists only in the understanding. And since that is the principle that does the mischief in Gaunilo's counterargument, Anselm sees no need to respond to the Lost Island argument in particular.

Correctly understood, Anselm says, the argument of the Proslogion can be summarized as follows:

1. That than which nothing greater can be thought can be thought.

2. If that than which nothing greater can be thought can be thought, it exists in reality.

Therefore,

3. That than which nothing greater can be thought exists in reality.

Anselm defends (1) by showing how we can form a conception of that than which nothing greater can be thought on the basis of our experience and understanding of those things than which a greater can be thought. For example,

it is clear to every reasonable mind that by raising our thoughts from lesser goods to greater goods, we are quite capable of forming an idea of that than which a greater cannot be thought on the basis of that than which a greater can be thought. Who, for example, is unable to think . . . that if something that has a beginning and end is good, then something that has a beginning but never ceases to exist is much better? And that just as the latter is better than the former, so something that has neither beginning nor end is better still, even if it is always moving from the past through the present into the future? And that something that in no way needs or is compelled to change or move is far better even than that, whether any such thing exists in reality or not? Can such a thing not be thought? Can anything greater than this be thought? Or rather, is not this an example of forming an idea of that than which a greater cannot be thought on the basis of those things than which a greater can be thought? So there is in fact a way to form an idea of that than which a greater cannot be thought. (Anselm's Reply to Gaunilo 8)

Once we have formed this idea of that than which nothing greater can be thought, Anselm says, we can see that such a being has features that cannot belong to a possible but non-existent object — or, in other words, that (2) is true. For example, a being that is capable of non-existence is less great than a being that exists necessarily. If that than which nothing greater can be thought does not exist, it is obviously capable of non-existence; and if it is capable of non-existence, then even if it were to exist, it would not be that than which nothing greater can be thought after all. So if that than which nothing greater can be thought can be thought — that is, if it is a possible being — it actually exists. (This reading of the argument of the Proslogion is developed at length in Williams and Visser 2009, chapter 5.)

3. The Divine Nature

3.1 Proving the divine attributes

Recall that Anselm's intention in the Proslogion was to offer a single argument that would establish not only the existence of God but also the various attributes that Christians believe God possesses. If the argument of chapter 2 proved only the existence of God, leaving the divine attributes to be established piecemeal as in the Monologion, Anselm would consider the Proslogion a failure. But in fact the concept of that than which nothing greater can be thought turns out to be marvelously fertile. God must, for example, be omnipotent. For if he were not, we could conceive of a being greater than he. But God is that than which no greater can be thought, so he must be omnipotent. Similarly, God must be just, self-existent, invulnerable to suffering, merciful, timelessly eternal, non-physical, non-composite, and so forth. For if he lacked any of these qualities, he would be less than the greatest conceivable being, which is impossible.

The ontological argument thus works as a sort of divine-attribute-generating machine. Admittedly, though, the appearance of theoretical simplicity is somewhat misleading. The “single argument” produces conclusions about the divine attributes only when conjoined with certain beliefs about what is greater or better. That is, the ontological argument tells us that God has whatever characteristics it is better or greater to have than to lack, but it does not tell us which characteristics those are. We must have some independent way of identifying them before we can plug them into the ontological argument and generate a full-blown conception of the divine nature. Anselm identifies these characteristics in part by appeal to intuitions about value, in part by independent argument. To illustrate Anselm's method, I shall examine his discussions of God's impassibility, timelessness, and simplicity.

According to the doctrine of divine impassibility, God is invulnerable to suffering. Nothing can act upon him; he is in no way passive. He therefore does not feel emotions, since emotions are states that one undergoes rather than actions one performs. Anselm does not find it necessary to argue that impassibility is a perfection; he thinks it is perfectly obvious that “it is better to be . . . impassible than not” (P 6), just as it is perfectly obvious that it is better to be just than not-just. His intuitions about value are shaped by the Platonic-Augustinian tradition of which he was a part. Augustine took from the Platonists the idea that the really real things, the greatest and best of beings, are stable, uniform, and unchanging. He says in On Free Choice of the Will 2.10, “And you surely could not deny that the uncorrupted is better than the corrupt, the eternal than the temporal, and the invulnerable than the vulnerable”; his interlocutor replies simply, “Could anyone?” Through Augustine (and others) these ideas, and the conception of God to which they naturally lead, became the common view of Christian theologians for well over a millennium. For Anselm, then, it is obvious that a being who is in no way passive, who cannot experience anything of which he is not himself the origin, is better and greater than any being who can be acted upon by something outside himself. So God, being that than which nothing greater can be thought, is wholly active; he is impassible.

Notice that Augustine also found it obvious that the eternal is better than the temporal. According to Plato's Timaeus, time is a “moving image of eternity” (37d). It is a shifting and shadowy reflection of the really real. As later Platonists, including Augustine, develop this idea, temporal beings have their existence piecemeal; they exist only in this tiny sliver of a now, which is constantly flowing away from them and passing into nothingness. An eternal being, by contrast, is (to use my earlier description) stable, uniform, and unchanging. What it has, it always has; what it is, it always is; what it does, it always does. So it seems intuitively obvious to Anselm that if God is to be that than which nothing greater can be thought, he must be eternal. That is, he must be not merely everlasting, but outside time altogether.

In addition to this strong intuitive consideration, Anselm at least hints at a further argument for the claim that it is better to be eternal than temporal. He opens chapter 13 of the Proslogion by observing, “Everything that is at all enclosed in a place or time is less than that which is subject to no law of place or time” (P 13). His idea seems to be that if God were in time (or in a place), he would be bound by certain constraints inherent in the nature of time (or place). His discussion in Monologion 22 makes the problem clear:

This, then, is the condition of place and time: whatever is enclosed within their boundaries does not escape being characterized by parts, whether the sort of parts its place receives with respect to size, or the sort its time suffers with respect to duration; nor can it in any way be contained as a whole all at once by different places or times. By contrast, if something is in no way constrained by confinement in a place or time, no law of places or times forces it into a multiplicity of parts or prevents it from being present as a whole all at once in several places or times. (M 22)

So at least part of the reason for holding that God is timeless is that the nature of time would impose constraints upon God, and of course it is better to be subject to no external constraints.

The other part of the reason, though, is that if God were in place or time he would have parts. But what is so bad about having parts? This question brings us naturally to the doctrine of divine simplicity, which is simply the doctrine that God has no parts of any kind. Even for an Augustinian like Anselm, the claim that it is better to lack parts than to have them is less than intuitively compelling, so Anselm offers further arguments for that claim. In the Proslogion he argues that “whatever is composed of parts is not completely one. It is in some sense a plurality and not identical with itself, and it can be broken up either in fact or at least in the understanding” (P 18). The argument in the Monologion goes somewhat differently. “Every composite,” Anselm argues, “needs the things of which it is composed if it is to subsist, and it owes its existence to them, since whatever it is, it is through them, whereas those things are not through it what they are” (M 17). The argument in the Proslogion, then, seeks to relate simplicity to the intuitive considerations that identify what is greatest and best with what is stable, uniform, and unchanging; the argument in the Monologion, by contrast, seeks to show that simplicity is necessary if God is to be—as the theistic proofs have already established—the ultimate source of his own goodness and existence.

3.2 The consistency of the divine attributes

Anselm's success in generating a whole host of divine attributes through the ontological argument does present him with a problem. He must show that the attributes are consistent with each other—in other words, that it is possible for one and the same being to have all of them. For example, there seems at first glance to be a conflict between justice and omnipotence. If God is perfectly just, he cannot lie. But if God is omnipotent, how can there be something he cannot do? Anselm's solution is to explain that omnipotence does not mean the ability to do everything; instead, it means the possession of unlimited power. Now the so-called “ability” or “power” to lie is not really a power at all; it is a kind of weakness. Being omnipotent, God has no weakness. So it turns out that omnipotence actually entails the inability to lie.

Another apparent contradiction is between God's mercy and his justice. If God is just, he will surely punish the wicked as they deserve. But because he is merciful, he spares the wicked. Anselm tries to resolve this apparent contradiction by appeal to God's goodness. It is better, he says, for God “to be good both to the good and to the wicked than to be good only to the good, and it is better to be good to the wicked both in punishing and in sparing them than to be good only in punishing them” (P 9). So God's supreme goodness requires that he be both just and merciful. But Anselm is not content to resolve the apparent tension between justice and mercy by appealing to some other attribute, goodness, that entails both justice and mercy; he goes on to argue that justice itself requires mercy. Justice to sinners obviously requires that God punish them; but God's justice to himself requires that he exercise his supreme goodness in sparing the wicked. “Thus,” Anselm says to God, “in saving us whom you might justly destroy . . . you are just, not because you give us our due, but because you do what is fitting for you who are supremely good” (P 10). In spite of these arguments, Anselm acknowledges that there is a residue of mystery here:

Thus your mercy is born of your justice, since it is just for you to be so good that you are good even in sparing the wicked. And perhaps this is why the one who is supremely just can will good things for the wicked. But even if one can somehow grasp why you can will to save the wicked, certainly no reasoning can comprehend why, from those who are alike in wickedness, you save some rather than others through your supreme goodness and condemn some rather than others through your supreme justice. (P 11)

In other words, the philosopher can trace the conceptual relations among goodness, justice, and mercy, and show that God not only can but must have all three; but no human reasoning can hope to show why God displays his justice and mercy in precisely the ways in which he does.

4. Freedom, Sin, and Redemption

4.1 Truth in statements and in the will

In On Freedom of Choice (De libertate arbitrii) Anselm defines freedom of choice as “the power to preserve rectitude of will for its own sake” (DLA 3). He explores the notion of rectitude of will most thoroughly in On Truth (De veritate), so in order to understand the definition of freedom of choice, we must look first at Anselm's discussion of truth. Truth is a much broader notion for Anselm than for us; he speaks of truth not only in statements and opinions but also in the will, actions, the senses, and even the essences of things. In every case, he argues, truth consists in correctness or “rectitude.” Rectitude, in turn, is understood teleologically; a thing is correct whenever it is or does whatever it ought, or was designed, to be or do. For example, statements are made for the purpose of “signifying that what-is is” (DV 2). A statement therefore is correct (has rectitude) when, and only when, it signifies that what-is is. So Anselm holds a correspondence theory of truth, but it is a somewhat unusual correspondence theory. Statements are true when they correspond to reality, but only because corresponding to reality is what statements are for. That is, statements (like anything else) are true when they do what they were designed to do; and what they were designed to do, as it happens, is to correspond to reality.

Truth in the will also turns out to be rectitude, again understood teleologically. Rectitude of will means willing what one ought to will or (in other words) willing that for the sake of which one was given a will. So, just as the truth or rectitude of a statement is the statement's doing what statements were made to do, the truth or rectitude of a will is the will's doing what wills were made to do. In DV 12 Anselm connects rectitude of will to both justice and moral evaluation. In a broad sense of ‘just’, whatever is as it ought to be is just. Thus, an animal is just when it blindly follows its appetites, because that is what animals were meant to do. But in the narrower sense of ‘just’, in which justice is what deserves moral approval and injustice is what deserves reproach, justice is best defined as “rectitude of will preserved for its own sake” (DV 12). Such rectitude requires that agents perceive the rectitude of their actions and will them for the sake of that rectitude. Anselm takes the second requirement to exclude both coercion and “being bribed by an extraneous reward” (DV 12). For an agent who is coerced into doing what is right is not willing rectitude for its own sake; and similarly, an agent who must be bribed to do what is right is willing rectitude for the sake of the bribe, not for the sake of rectitude.

Since, as we have already seen, Anselm will define freedom as “the power to preserve rectitude of will for its own sake,” the arguments of On Truth imply that freedom is also the capacity for justice and the capacity for moral praiseworthiness. Now it is both necessary and sufficient for justice, and thus for praiseworthiness, that an agent wills what is right, knowing it to be right, because it is right. That an agent wills what is right because it is right entails that he is neither compelled nor bribed to perform the act. Freedom, then, must be neither more nor less than the power to perform acts of that sort.

4.2 Freedom and sin

Thus Anselm takes it to be obvious that freedom is a power for something: its purpose is to preserve rectitude of will for its own sake. God and the good angels cannot sin, but they are still free, because they can (and do) preserve rectitude of will for its own sake. In fact, they are freer than those who can sin: “someone who has what is fitting and expedient in such a way that he cannot lose it is freer than someone who has it in such a way that he can lose it and be seduced into what is unfitting and inexpedient” (DLA 1). It obviously follows, as Anselm points out, that freedom of choice neither is nor entails the power to sin; God and the good angels have freedom of choice, but they are incapable of sinning.

But if free choice is the power to hold on to what is fitting and expedient, and it is not the power to sin, does it make any sense to say that the first human beings and the rebel angels sinned through free choice? Anselm's reply to this question is both subtle and plausible. In order to be able to preserve rectitude of will for its own sake, an agent must be able to perform an action that has its ultimate origin in the agent him- or herself rather than in some external source. (For convenience I will refer to that power as “the power for self-initiated action.”) Any being that has freedom of choice, therefore, will thereby have the power for self-initiated action. The first human beings and the rebel angels sinned through an exercise of their power for self-initiated action, and so it is appropriate to say that they sinned through free choice. Nonetheless, free choice does not entail the power to sin. For free choice can be perfected by something else, as yet unspecified, that renders it incapable of sinning.

In On the Fall of the Devil (De casu diaboli) Anselm extends his account of freedom and sin by discussing the first sin of the angels. In order for the angels to have the power to preserve rectitude of will for its own sake, they had to have both a will for justice and a will for happiness. If God had given them only a will for happiness, they would have been necessitated to will whatever they thought would make them happy. Their willing of happiness would have had its ultimate origin in God and not in the angels themselves. So they would not have had the power for self-initiated action, which means that they would not have had free choice. The same thing would have been true, mutatis mutandis, if God had given them only the will for justice.

Since God gave them both wills, however, they had the power for self-initiated action. Whether they chose to subject their wills for happiness to the demands of justice or to ignore the demands of justice in the interest of happiness, that choice had its ultimate origin in the angels; it was not received from God. The rebel angels chose to abandon justice in an attempt to gain happiness for themselves, whereas the good angels chose to persevere in justice even if it meant less happiness. God punished the rebel angels by taking away their happiness; he rewarded the good angels by granting them all the happiness they could possibly want. For this reason, the good angels are no longer able to sin. Since there is no further happiness left for them to will, their will for happiness can no longer entice them to overstep the bounds of justice. Thus Anselm finally explains what it is that perfects free choice so that it becomes unable to sin.

4.3 Grace and redemption

Like the fallen angels, the first human beings willed happiness in preference to justice. By doing so they abandoned the will for justice and became unable to will justice for its own sake. Apart from divine grace, then, fallen human beings cannot help but sin. Anselm claims that we are still free, because we continue to be such that if we had rectitude of will, we could preserve it for its own sake; but we cannot exercise our freedom, since we no longer have the rectitude of will to preserve. (Whether fallen human beings also retain the power for self-initiated action apart from divine grace is a tricky question, and one I do not propose to answer here.)

So the restoration of human beings to the justice they were intended to enjoy requires divine grace. But even more is needed than God's restoration of the will for justice. In Cur Deus Homo (Why God Became A Human Being) Anselm famously attempts to show on purely rational grounds that the debt incurred by human sin could be suitably discharged, and the affront to God's infinite dignity could be suitably rectified, only if one who was both fully divine and fully human took it upon himself to offer his own life on our behalf.

Bibliography

References in this article to Anselm's works use the following abbreviations:

DLA = De libertate arbitrii

DV = De veritate

M = Monologion

P = Proslogion

All translations are my own.

Critical Edition

• Schmitt, Franciscus Salesius, 1936. “Ein neues unvollendetes Werk des hl. Anselm von Canterbury,” Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Theologie des Mittelalters Band 33, Heft 3 (1936), 22–43.

• Schmitt, Franciscus Salesius, 1968. S. Anselmi Cantuariensis Archiepiscopi Opera Omnia. Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Friedrich Fromann Verlag.

Translations

• Davies, Brian, and G. R. Evans (ed.), 1998. Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

• Williams, Thomas, 2007. Anselm: Basic Writings. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company.

Secondary Works

• Davies, Brian, and Brian Leftow (eds.), 2004. The Cambridge Companion to Anselm, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

• Evans, G. R., 1978. Anselm and Talking about God, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

• –––, 1984. A Concordance to the Works of Saint Anselm, Millwood, NY: Kraus International Publications.

• –––, 1989. Anselm, London: G. Chapman.

• Henry, Desmond Paul, 1967. The Logic of Saint Anselm, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

• Holopainen, Toivo, 1996. Dialectic and Theology in the Eleventh Century, Leiden: E. J. Brill.

• Hopkins, Jasper, 1972. A Companion to the Study of St. Anselm, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

• Klima, Gyula, 2000. “Saint Anselm's Proof: A Problem of Reference, Intentional Identity and Mutual Understanding”, in G. Hintikka (ed.), Medieval Philosophy and Modern Times (Proceedings of “Medieval and Modern Philosophy of Religion”, Boston University, August 25–27, 1992), Dordrecht: Kluwer, pp. 69–88. [Preprint available online]

• Leftow, Brian, 1997. “Anselm on the Cost of Salvation,” Medieval Philosophy and Theology, 6: 73–92.

• Oppenheimer, P., and Zalta, E., 1991. “On the Logic of the Ontological Argument”, Philosophical Perspectives 5: 509–529; reprinted in The Philosopher's Annual: 1991, XIV (1993): 255–275.

• Plantinga, Alvin (ed.), 1965. The Ontological Argument, Garden City, NY: Anchor Books.

• Southern, R. W., 1990. Saint Anselm: A Portrait in Landscape, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

• Williams, Thomas, 1997. “Review of Holopainen 1996,” History and Philosophy of Logic, 18: 55–59.

• Williams, Thomas, and Sandra Visser, 2009. Anselm (Great Medieval Thinkers), New York: Oxford University Press.

• Wolterstorff, Nicholas, 1993. “In Defense of Gaunilo's Defense of the Fool,” in C. Stephen Evans and Merold Westphal (eds.), Christian Perspectives on Religious Knowledge, Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

SOURCE : http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/anselm/

St. Anselm, Doctor of the Church


St. Anselm (1033-1109) was born in Aosta, Italy, and died in Canterbuy, England. St. Anselm’s services to the Church are principally the following: First, as Archbishop of Canterbury he defended the rights and liberties of the Church against the encroachments of the English kings, who plundered the Church’s lands, impeded 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 jurisdiction. Second, as a philosopher and theologian he developed a method of reasoning 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.

As prior and abbot, Anselm made the Benedictine monastery of Bec the center of a true reformation in Normandy and England. From this monastery he exercised a restraining influence on popes, kings, the worldly great, and entire religious orders. Raised to the dignity of Archbishop of Canterbury and primate of England, he waged a heroic campaign in defense of the rights and liberties of the Church. As a result he was deprived of goods and position and finally banned from the country. He journeyed to Rome, and at the Council of Bari supported Pope Urban II against the errors of the Greeks. His writings bear eloquent testimony to his moral stature and learning, and have earned for him the title of “Father of Scholasticism.”— The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

St. Anselm exhibited remarkable versatility in his life; a combination of contemplation, prayer, study, writing, and external activity. This was partly the result of the extraordinary talent that God gave him, but it was likewise the fruit of Anselm’s faithful exercise of his talent in the study of natural and supernatural truths.

But his chief merit lay in his earnest, conscious effort to live in accordance with what he had learned from the study of divine truths. By this means he was able to ascend to the heights of a life of faith and union with God. There is very much that we can learn from this great teacher. “Lord, I do not presume to fathom the depths of your truths, for my understanding is not equal to the task. Nevertheless, I desire to learn Your truths in some measure—those truths that I believe and love. I do not seek to gain knowledge so that I can believe; rather, I believe so that I may gain knowledge. No matter how persistently my soul gazes, it still beholds nothing of Your beauty; my soul listens intently, and yet it hears nothing of the learning of Your Being; my soul wants to breathe in Your fragrance, and yet perceives none of it. What are You, Lord? Under what image can my heart recognize You? Truly, You are life; You are truth; You are Goodness; You are Holiness; You are eternity; You are everything good! O man, why do you roam about so far in search of good things for soul and body? Love the one Good, in whom all goods are contained, and that will satisfy you!” (St. Anselm.)

SOURCE : http://www.ucatholic.com/saints/anselm/


April 21

St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, Confessor

From his life, written by Eadmer his disciple, in two books; also the same author’s history of Novelties, in six books, from the year 1066 to 1122; and a poem on the miracles of St. Anselm, probably by the same writer, published by Martenne, Ampliss. Collectio, t. 6, pp. 983, 987. The principal memorials relating to St. Anselm are collected in the Benedictin edition of his works; from which a short abstract is here given. See Gallia Christ. Nova. t. 11, p. 223. Ceillier, t. 21, p. 267.

A.D. 1109.

IF the Norman conquerors stripped the English nation of its liberty, and many temporal advantages, it must be owned that by their valour they raised the reputation of its arms, and deprived their own country of its greatest men, both in church and state, with whom they adorned this kingdom: of which this great doctor, and his master Lanfranc, are instances. St. Anselm was born of noble parents, at Aoust, in Piedmont, about the year 1033. His pious mother took care to give him an early tincture of piety, and the impressions her instructions made upon him were as lasting as his life. At the age of fifteen, desirous of serving God in the monastic state, he petitioned an abbot to admit him into his house; but was refused out of apprehension of his father’s displeasure. Neglecting, during the course of his studies to cultivate the divine seed in his heart, he lost this inclination, and, his mother being dead, he fell into tepidity; and, without being sensible of the fatal tendency of vanity and pleasure, began to walk in the broad way of the world: so dangerous a thing is it to neglect the inspirations of grace! The saint, in his genuine meditations, expresses the deepest sentiments of compunction for these disorders, which his perfect spirit of penance exceedingly exaggerated to him, and which, like another David, he never ceased most bitterly to bewail to the end of his days. The ill usage he met with from his father, induced him, after his mother’s death, to leave his own country, where he had made a successful beginning in his studies: and, after a diligent application to them for three years in Burgundy (then a distinct government), and in France, invited by the great fame of Lanfranc, prior of Bec in Normandy, under the abbot Herluin, he went thither and became his scholar. 1 On his father’s death, Anselm advised with him about the state of life he was to embrace; as whether he should live upon his estate to employ its produce in alms, or should renounce it at once and embrace a monastic and eremitical life. Lanfranc, feeling an overbearing affection for so promising a disciple, durst not advise him in his vocation, fearing the bias of his own inclination; but he sent him to Maurillus, the holy archbishop of Rouen. By him Anselm, after he had laid open to him his interior, was determined to enter the monastic state at Bec, and accordingly became a member of that house, at the age of twenty-seven, in 1060, under the abbot Herluin. Three years after, Lanfranc was made abbot of St. Stephen’s, at Caen, and Anselm prior of Bec. 2 At this promotion several of the monks murmured on account of his youth; but, by patience and sweetness, he won the affections of them all, and by little condescensions at first so worked upon an irregular young monk, called Osbern, as to perfect his conversion, and make him one of the most fervent. He had indeed so great a knowledge of the hearts and passions of men, that he seemed to read their interior in their actions; by which he discovered the sources of virtues and vices, and knew how to adapt to each proper advice and instructions; which were rendered most powerful, by the mildness and charity with which he applied them. And in regard to the management and tutoring of youth, he looked upon excessive severity as highly pernicious. Eadmer has recorded a conversation he had on this subject with a neighbouring abbot, 3 who, by a conformity to our saint’s practice and advice in this regard, experienced that success in his labours which he had till then aspired to in vain, by harshness and severity.

St. Anselm applied himself diligently to the study of every part of theology, by the clear light of scripture and tradition. Whilst he was prior at Bec, he wrote his Monologium, so called, because in this work he speaks alone, explaining the metaphysical proofs of the existence and nature of God. Also his Proslogium, or contemplation of God’s attributes, in which he addresses his discourse to God, or himself. The Meditations, commonly called the Manual of St. Austin, are chiefly extracted out of this book. It was censured by a neighbouring monk, which occasioned the saint’s Apology. These, and other the like works, show the author to have excelled in metaphysics all the doctors of the church since St. Austin. He likewise wrote, whilst prior, On Truth, On Freewill, and On the Fall of the Devil, or On the Origin of Evil: also his Grammarian, which is, in reality, a treatise on Dialectic, or the art of reasoning.

Anselm’s reputation drew to Bec great numbers from all the neighbouring kingdoms. Herluin dying in 1078, he was chosen abbot of Bec, being forty-five years old, of which he had been prior fifteen. The abbey of Bec being possessed at that time of some lands in England, this obliged the abbot to make his appearance there in person, at certain times. This occasioned our saint’s first journeys thither, which his tender regard for his old friend Lanfranc, at that time archbishop of Canterbury, made the more agreeable. He was received with great honour and esteem by all ranks of people, both in church and state; and there was no one who did not think it a real misfortune, if he had not been able to serve him in something or other. King William himself, whose title of Conqueror rendered him haughty and inaccessible to his subjects, was so affable to the good abbot of Bec, that he seemed to be another man in his presence. The saint, on his side, was all to all, by courtesy and charity, that he might find occasions of giving every one some suitable instructions to promote their salvation; which were so much the more effectual, as he communicated them, not as some do with the dictatorial air of a master, but in a simple familiar manner, or by indirect, though sensible examples. In the year 1092, Hugh, the great earl of Chester, by three pressing messages, entreated Anselm to come again into England, to assist him, then dangerously sick, and to give his advice about the foundation of a monastery, which that nobleman had undertaken at St. Wereburge’s church at Chester. A report that he would be made archbishop of Canterbury, in the room of Lanfranc, deceased, made him stand off for some time; but he could not forsake his old friend in his distress, and at last came over. He found him recovered, but the affairs of his own abbey, and of that which the earl was erecting, detained him five months in England. The metropolitan see of Canterbury had been vacant ever since the death of Lanfranc, in 1089. The sacrilegious and tyrannical king, William Rufus, who succeeded his father in 1087, by an injustice unknown till his time, usurped the revenues of vacant benefices, and deferred his permission, or Congé d’élire, in order to the filling the episcopal sees, that he might the longer enjoy their income. Having thus seized into his hands the revenues of the archbishopric, he reduced the monks of Canterbury to a scanty allowance: oppressing them moreover by his officers with continual insults, threats, and vexations. He had been much solicited, by the most virtuous among the nobility, to supply the see of Canterbury, in particular, with a person proper for that station; but continued deaf to all their remonstrances, and answered them at Christmas, 1093, that neither Anselm nor any other should have that bishopric whilst he lived; and this he swore to by the holy face of Lucca, meaning a great crucifix in the cathedral of that city, held in singular veneration, his usual oath. He was seized soon after with a violent fit of sickness, which in a few days brought him to extremity. He was then at Gloucester, and seeing himself in this condition, signed a proclamation, which was published, to release all those who had been taken prisoners in the field, to discharge all debts owing to the crown, and to grant a general pardon: promising likewise to govern according to law, and to punish the instruments of injustice with exemplary severity. He moreover nominated Anselm to the see of Canterbury, at which all were extremely satisfied but the good abbot himself, who made all the decent opposition imaginable; alleging his age, his want of health and vigour enough for so weighty a charge, his unfitness for the management of public and secular affairs, which he had always declined to the best of his power. The king was extremely concerned at his opposition, and asked him why he endeavoured to ruin him in the other world, being convinced that he should lose his soul in case he died before the archbishopric was filled. The king was seconded by the bishops and others present, who not only told him they were scandalized at his refusal, but added, that, if he persisted in it, all the grievances of the church and nation would be placed to his account. Thereupon they forced a pastoral staff into his hands, in the king’s presence, carried him into the church, and sung Te Deum on the occasion. This was on the 6th of March, 1093. He still declined the charge, till the king had promised him the restitution of all the lands that were in the possession of that see in Lanfranc’s time. Anselm also insisted that he should acknowledge Urban II. for lawful pope. Things being thus adjusted, Anselm was consecrated with great solemnity on the 4th of December, in 1093

Anselm had not been long in possession of the see of Canterbury, when the king, intending to wrest the duchy of Normandy out of the hands of his brother Robert, made large demands on his subjects for supplies. On this occasion, not content with the five hundred pounds (a very large sum in those days) offered him by the archbishop, the king insisted, at the instigation of some of his courtiers, on a thousand, for his nomination to the archbishopric, which Anselm constantly refused to pay: pressing him also to fill vacant abbeys, and to consent that the bishops should hold councils as formerly, and be allowed by canons to repress crimes and abuses, which were multiplied, and passed into custom, for want of such a remedy, especially incestuous marriages and other abominable debaucheries. The king was extremely provoked, and declared no one should extort from him his abbeys any more than his crown. 4 And from that day he sought to deprive Anselm of his see. William, bishop of Durham, and the other prelates, acquiesced readily in the king’s orders, by which he forbade them to obey him as their primate, or treat him as archbishop, alleging for reason that he obeyed Pope Urban, during the schism, whom the English nation had not acknowledged. The king, having brought over most of the bishops to his measures, applied to the temporal nobility, and bid them disclaim the archbishop: but they resolutely answered, that since he was their archbishop, and had a right to superintend the affairs of religion, it was not in their power to disengage themselves from his authority, especially as there was no crime or misdemeanour proved against him. King William then, by his ambassador, acknowledged Urban for true pope, and promised him a yearly pension from England, if he would depose Anselm; but the legate, whom his holiness sent, told the king that it was what could not be done. St. Anselm wrote to the pope to thank him for the pall he had sent him by that legate, complaining of the affliction in which he lived under a burden too heavy for him to bear, and regretting the tranquillity of his solitude which he had lost. 5 Finding the king always seeking occasions to oppress his church, unless he fed him with its treasures, which he regarded as the patrimony of the poor (though he readily furnished his contingent in money and troops to his expeditions and to all public burdens), the holy prelate earnestly desired to leave England, that he might apply, in person, to the pope for his counsel and assistance. The king refused him twice: and, on his applying to him a third time, he assured the saint that, if he left that kingdom, he would seize upon the whole revenue of the see of Canterbury, and that he should never more be acknowledged metropolitan. But the saint, being persuaded he could not in conscience abide any longer in the realm, to be a witness of the oppression of the Church, and not have it in his power to remedy it, set out from Canterbury, in October, 1097, in the habit of a pilgrim; took shipping at Dover, and landed at Witsan, having with him two monks, Eadmer, who wrote his life, and Baldwin. He made some stay at Cluni with St. Hugh, the abbot, and at Lyons with the good Archbishop Hugh. It not being safe travelling any further towards Rome at that time, on account of the anti-pope’s party lying in the way; and Anselm falling sick soon after, this made it necessary for him to stay longer at Lyons than he had designed. However, he left that city the March following, in 1098, on the pope’s invitation, and was honourably received by him. His holiness, having heard his cause, assured him of his protection, and wrote to the King of England for his re-establishment in his rights and possessions. Anselm also wrote to the king at the same time; and, after ten days’ stay in the pope’s palace, retired to the monastery of St. Saviour in Calabria, the air of Rome not agreeing with his health. Here he finished his work entitled, Why God was made Man; in two books, showing, against infidels, the wisdom, justice, and expediency of the mystery of the incarnation for man’s redemption. He had begun this work in England, where he also wrote his book On the Faith of the Trinity and Incarnation, dedicated to Pope Urban II., in which he refuted Roscelin, the master, Peter Abailard, who maintained an erroneous opinion in regard to the Trinity. Anselm, charmed with the sweets of his retirement, and despairing of doing any good at Canterbury, hearing by new instances that the king was still governed by his passions, in open defiance to justice and religion, earnestly entreated the pope, whom he met at Aversa, to discharge him of his bishopric; believing he might be more serviceable to the world in a private station. The pope would by no means consent, but charged him upon his obedience not to quit his station: adding, that it was not the part of a man of piety and courage to be frightened from his post purely by the dint of browbeating and threats, that being all the harm he had hitherto received. Anselm replied, that he was not afraid of suffering, or even losing his life in the cause of God; but that he saw there was nothing to be done in a country where justice was so overruled as it then was in England. However, Anselm submitted, and in the meantime returned to his retirement, which was a cell called Slavia, situated on a mountain, depending on the monastery of St. Saviour. That he might live in the merit of obedience, he prevailed with the pope to appoint the monk Eadmer, his inseparable companion, to be his superior, nor did he do the least thing without his leave.

The pope having called a council, which was to meet at Bari, in October, 1098, in order to effect a reconciliation of the Greeks with the Catholic church, ordered the saint to be present at it. It consisted of one hundred and twenty-three bishops. The Greeks having proposed the question about the procession of the Holy Ghost, whether this was from the Father only, or from the Father and the Son; the disputation being protracted, the pope called aloud for Anselm, saying: “Anselm, our father and our master, where are you?” And causing him to sit next to him, told him that the present occasion required his learning and elocution to defend the church against her enemies, and that he thought God had brought him thither for that purpose. Anselm spoke to the point with so much learning, judgment, and penetration, that he silenced the Greeks, and gave such a general satisfaction, that all present joined in pronouncing Anathema against those who should afterwards deny the procession of the Holy Ghost from both the Father and the Son. This affair being at an end, the proceedings of the King of England fell next under debate. And on this occasion his simony, his oppressions of the church, his persecution of Anselm, and his incorrigibleness, after frequent admonitions, were so strongly represented, that the pope, at the instance of the council, was just going to pronounce him excommunicated. Anselm had hitherto sat silent, but at this he rose up, and casting himself on his knees before the pope, entreated him to stop the censure. And now the council, who had admired our saint for his parts and learning, were further charmed with him on account of his humane and Christian dispositions, in behalf of one that had used him so roughly. The saint’s petition in behalf of his sovereign was granted; and, on the council breaking up, the pope and Anselm returned to Rome. The pope, however, sent to the king a threat of excommunication, to be issued in a council to be shortly after held at Rome, unless he made satisfaction; but the king, by his ambassador, obtained a long delay. Anselm staid some time at Rome with the pope, who always placed him next in rank to himself. All persons, even the schismatics, loved and honoured him; and he assisted with distinction at the council of Rome, held after Easter, in 1099. Immediately after the Roman council he returned to Lyons, where he was entertained by the Archbishop Hugh, with all the cordiality and regard imaginable; but saw no hopes of recovering his see so long as King William lived. Here he wrote his book, On the Conception of the Virgin, and On Original Sin, resolving many questions relating to that sin. The Archbishop of Lyons gave him in all functions the precedence, and all thought themselves happy who could receive any sacrament from his hands. Upon the death of Urban II. he wrote an account of his case to his successor, Paschal II. King William Rufus being snatched away by sudden death, without the sacraments, on the 2nd of August, 1100, St. Anselm, who was then in the abbey of Chaize-Dieu, in Auvergne, lamented bitterly his unhappy end, and made haste to England, whither he was invited by King Henry I. He landed at Dover on the 23d of September, and was received with great joy and extraordinary respect. And having in a few days recovered the fatigue of his journey, went to wait on the king, who received him very graciously. But this harmony was of no long continuance. The new king required of Anselm to be reinvested by him, and do the customary homage of his predecessors for his see; but the saint absolutely refused to comply, and made a report of the proceedings of the late synod at Rome, in which the laity that gave investitures for abbeys or cathedrals were excommunicated; and those who received such investitures were put under the same censure. But this not satisfying the king, it was agreed between them to consult the pope upon the subject. The court, in the meantime, was very much alarmed at the preparations making by the king’s elder brother, Robert, duke of Normandy; who, being returned from the holy war in Palestine, claimed the crown of England, and threatened to invade the land. The nobles, though they had sworn allegiance to Henry, were ready enough to join him; and, on his landing with a formidable army at Portsmouth, several declared for the duke. The king being in great danger of losing his crown, was very liberal in promises to Anselm on this occasion; assuring him that he would henceforward leave the business of religion wholly to him, and be always governed by the advice and orders of the apostolic see. Anselm omitted nothing on his side to prevent a revolt from the king. Not content with sending his quota of armed men, he strongly represented to the disaffected nobles the heinousness of their crime of perjury, and that they ought rather lose their lives than break through their oaths, and fail in their sworn allegiance to their prince. He also published an excommunication against Robert, as an invader, who thereupon came to an accommodation with Henry, and left England. And thus, as Eadmer relates, the archbishop, strengthening the king’s party, kept the crown upon his head. Amidst his troubles and public distractions, he retired often in the day to his devotions, and watched long in them in the night. At his meals, and at all times, he conversed interiorly with heaven. One day, as he was riding to his manor of Herse, a hare, pursued by the dogs, ran under his horse for refuge: at which the saint stopped, and the hounds stood at bay. The hunters laughed, but the saint said, weeping, “This hare puts me in mind of a poor sinner just upon the point of departing this life, surrounded with devils, waiting to carry away their prey.” The hare going off, he forbade her to be pursued, and was obeyed, not a hound stirring after her. In like manner, every object served to raise his mind to God, with whom he always conversed in his heart, and, in the midst of noise and tumult, he enjoyed the tranquillity of holy contemplation; so strongly was his soul sequestered from, and raised above the world.

King Henry, though so much indebted to Anselm, still persisted in his claim of the right of giving the investitures of benefices. Anselm, in 1102, held a national council in St. Peter’s church at Westminster, in which, among other things, it was forbidden to sell men like cattle, which had till then been practised in England; and many canons relating to discipline were drawn up. He persisted to refuse to ordain bishops, named by the king, without a canonical election. The contest became every day more serious. At last, the king and nobles persuaded Anselm to go in person, and consult the pope about the matter: the king also sent a deputy to his holiness. The saint embarked on the 27th of April, in 1103. Pope Paschal II. condemned the king’s pretensions to the investitures, and excommunicated those who should receive church dignities from him. St. Anselm being advanced, on his return to England, as far as Lyons, received there an intimation of an order from King Henry, forbidding him to proceed on his journey home, unless he would conform to his will. He therefore remained at Lyons, where he was much honoured by his old friend the Archbishop Hugh.—From thence he retired to his abbey of Bec, where he received from the pope a commission to judge the cause of the archbishop of Rouen, accused of several crimes. He was also allowed to receive into communion such as had accepted investitures from the crown, which, though still disallowed of, the bishops and abbots were so far dispensed with as to do homage for their temporalities. The king was so pleased with this condescension of the pope, that he sent immediately to Bec, to invite St. Anselm home in the most obliging manner, but a grievous sickness detained him. The king coming over into Normandy in 1106, articles of agreement were drawn up between him and the archbishop, at Bec, pursuant to the letter St. Anselm had received from Rome a few months before: and the pope very readily confirmed the agreement. In this expedition, Henry defeated his brother Robert, and sent him prisoner into England, where he died. St. Anselm hereupon returned to England, in 1106, and was received by the Queen Maud, who came to meet him, and by the whole kingdom of England, as it were in triumph. 6

The last years of his life, his health was entirely broken.—Having for six months laboured under an hectic decay, with an entire loss of appetite, under which disorder he would be carried every day to assist at holy mass: he happily expired, laid on sackcloth and ashes, at Canterbury, on the 21st of April, 1109, in the sixteenth year of his episcopal dignity, and of his age the seventy-sixth. He was buried in his cathedral. By a decree of Clement XI., in 1720, 7 he is honoured among the doctors of the church. We have authentic accounts of many miracles wrought by this saint in the histories of Eadmer and others.

St. Anselm had a most lively faith of all the mysteries and great truths of our holy religion; and by the purity of his heart, and an interior divine light, he discovered great secrets in the holy scriptures, and had a wonderful talent in explaining difficulties which occur in them. His hope for heavenly things gave him a wonderful contempt and disgust of the vanities of the world, and he could truly say with the apostle, he was crucified to the world, and all its desires. By an habitual mortification of his appetite in eating and drinking, he seemed to have lost all relish in the nourishment which he took. His fortitude was such, that no human respects, or other considerations, could ever turn him out of the way of justice and truth; and his charity for his neighbour seemed confined by no bounds: his words, his writings, his whole life breathed forth his heavenly fire. He seemed to live, says his faithful disciple and historian, not for himself, but for others; or rather so much the more for himself by how much the more profitable his life was to his neighbours, and faithful to his God. The divine love and law were the continual subjects of his meditations day and night. He had a singular devotion to the passion of our Lord, and to his Virgin mother. Her image at Bec, before which, at her altar, he daily made long prayers whilst he lived in that monastery, is religiously kept in the new sumptuous church. His horror of the least sin is not to be expressed. In his Proslogium, meditations, and other ascetic works, the most heroic and inflamed sentiments of all these virtues, especially of compunction, fear of the divine judgments, and charity, are expressed in that language of the heart which is peculiar to the saints

Note 1. The venerable abbot Herluin, after having commanded in the armies with great valour and reputation, renounced the world, founded this abbey upon his own manor of Bec, about the year 1040, and was chosen the first abbot. Mabillon has given us his edifying life, but could not find sufficient proof that he was ever honoured in the church as a saint. In the calendar of Bec his festival is marked a double of the first class on the 26th of August: but the mass is sung in honour of the Blessed Trinity. Among the MSS. of this house are two lives of this their founder. To one of them is annexed a MS. modern dissertation, in which the anonymous author pretends to prove that Herluin was honoured among the saints, and that a chapel in that monastery, which is now destroyed, was dedicated to God under his invocation. See the lives of Herluin in the library of MSS. at Bec, n. 128 and 140. Also Chronicon Becense, n. 141. [back]

Note 2. Lanfranc was born at Pavia, in Lombardy, of a noble family, about the year 1005; studied eloquence and the laws at Bologna, and was professor of laws in his native city. This charge he resigned in order to travel into Normandy, where he made his monastic profession at Bec, under Herluin, the first abbot, about the year 1042, Henry I. being king of France, and William the Bastard, duke of Normandy. Three years after he was made prior, and commenced a great school in that monastery, which, by his extraordinary reputation, soon became the most famous at that time in Europe. Berengarius, professor at Tours, and archdeacon of Angers, made great complaints against him, because several had left his school to go to Bec. When that unhappy professor broached his errors concerning the Blessed Eucharist, Lanfranc invited him often to a conference, which Berengarius declined. He assisted at the council of Rheims, in 1049, held by St. Leo IX., and attended that pope to Rome, and was present at the council there in which Berengarius was excommunicated, and at that of Vercelli. Duke William married his cousin Maud, daughter to Baldwin, count of Flanders, without a dispensation; but Nicholas II. afterwards granted one at the solicitation of Lanfranc, whom the duke sent to Rome on that errand. In that city he attended the council in which Berengarius solemnly abjured his errors. After his relapse, he wrote against him (whether at Bec or at Caen is uncertain) his excellent book On the Body of our Lord. The conditions which the pope required, in compensation for the dispensation for the duke’s marriage, was, that he and the duchess should each found a monastery, the one for monks and the other for nuns. This they executed, in the most magnificent manner, in the abbeys of St. Stephen and of Holy Trinity, at Caen, in 1059. The buildings being finished in 1063, Lanfranc was appointed first abbot of the former, whither Pope Alexander II., who had been his scholar at Bec, sent some of his relations to study in the great school which he opened in this new abbey. Lanfranc had obstinately refused the archbishopric of Rouen in 1067, but was compelled, by the orders of two councils and abbot Herluin, to accept that of Canterbury in 1070. The pope appointed him legate in England, and the archbishop reformed the clergy, the monasteries, and the laity, and restored the studies both of the sacred sciences, eloquence, and grammar. He is allowed by all to have been the ablest dialectician, and the most eloquent Latin writer of his age; nor was he less famous for his skill in the scriptures, fathers, and canon law. King William, as often as he went into Normandy, charged him with the chief care of the government in England, and by that prince’s last disposition, and his express order before his death, Lanfranc crowned his younger son, William Rufus, on the 29th of September, 1087. He survived two years, his death happening on the 28th of May, 1089, in the nineteenth year of his archiepiscopal dignity. He was buried in Christ-Church, at Canterbury.

  His genuine commentary on St. Paul’s epistles, Mabillon was possessed of, and promised to publish, but was prevented by death; that given by D’Achery upon this subject is certainly not his. His statutes for the Benedictin order in England, published by Dom. Reyner, the first abbot of Lumbspring; his notes upon Cassian’s conferences, with his treatise against Berengarius, and sixty letters, make up the most correct edition of his works given by Luke D’Achery, with useful notes, in one volume, in folio, in 1648, and the last edition of the Bibliotheca Patrum. To these we may add his discourse in the council of Winchester, in 1076. Also his Sentences, an excellent ascetic work for the use of monks, discovered by Dom. Luke D’Achery twelve years after the publication of his works, and published by him in the fourth tome of his Spicilege, and inserted t. 18, Biblioth. Patr. p. 83. The treatise On the Secret of Confession, by some attributed to Lanfranc, seems not to be his genuine work. His Comments on the Psalms, his History of William the Conqueror, or rather panegyric, and some other works, quoted by several writers under his name, seem lost. We have his life written by Milo Crespin, a monk of Bec, his contemporary in the chronicle of Bec, and Eadmer’s Hist. Novorum, &c. Other monuments relating to his history, are collected by Luke D’Achery and Mabillon. Capgrave and Trithemius honour him with the title of saint on the 28th of May, on which day his life is given in Britannia Sancta. But it is certain that no marks of such an honour have ever been allowed to his memory, either at Canterbury, Caen, or Bec, nor, as it seems, in any other church: and William Thorn’s chronicle is a proof that all had not an equal idea of his extraordinary sanctity. His memory is justly vindicated against some moderns, by Wharton, in his Anglia Sacra.
On Lanfranc, see Ceillier, t. 21, p. 1; Hist. Liter. de la France, t. 10, p. 260. [back]

Note 3. N 30. [back]

Note 4. He did not think himself a complete monarch, as Eadmer says, unless he melted the mitre into the crown, and engrossed the possession of all jurisdiction, both spiritual and temporal, p. 28. [back]

Note 5. B. 3. ep. 37. [back]

Note 6. His exterior occupations did not hinder him from continuing to employ his pen in defence of the church. Towards the end of his life, he wrote a book on the Will, showing its different acceptations: also his learned treatise on the Concord of Divine Foreknowledge, Predestination, and Grace with Free-will; and a tract on Azymes, against the Greeks: another on the difference of the Sacraments, viz. in the Latin and Greek ceremonies; and a work on the prohibited Marriages of Relations. His epistles are divided into four books: the first contains those which he wrote before he was abbot: the second those whilst he was abbot: the third and fourth those he wrote whilst archbishop. The Elucidarium on theology is unworthy his name, though it has sometimes passed under it by mistake: as have the discourse on the Conception of the Blessed Virgin: and the Commentaries on St. Paul’s Epistles, by Hervæus, a Benedictin monk, prior of Bourg-Dieu, in Berry, in 1140. (See D’Achery, Spicileg. t. 3, p. 461). The poem on the Contempt of the World, is the work of Roger of Caen, monk at Bec, whilst St. Anselm was prior, as Mabillon shows. (Annal. l. 65, n. 41, p. 134, and Ceillier, t. 21, p. 305.) The treatise on the Excellence of the Blessed Virgin was written by Eadmer, the disciple of our saint, who died prior at Canterbury, in 1137. St. Anselm, in his dogmatical writings, sticks close to the fathers, especially to St. Austin. He gathers the doctrine of the points he treats of into a regular system, in a clear method, and a chain of close reasoning: the method which St. John Damascen had followed among the Greeks, in his books on the Orthodox Faith, and which, among the Latins, Peter Lombard, bishop of Paris, (from his Abridgment of Divinity, which was called his four books of Sentences, surnamed the Master of the Sentences,) and all the schoolmen have followed ever since. Whence St. Anselm is regarded as the first of the scholastic theologians, as St. Bernard closes the list of the fathers of the church. Dom. Gerberon published an abridgment of St. Anselm’s doctrine, entitled S. Anselmus per se docens, in 12mo. An. 1692. Dom. Joseph Saens (Cardinal d’Aguirre) gave commentaries on St. Anselm’s dogmatical works, under the title of Theologia S. Anselmi, printed in three volumes in folio, at Salamanca, in 1679, and with corrections and additions at Rome, in 1688. He intended a fourth volume on the Saint’s Prayers and Meditations; which he never executed. This work was dedicated to Pope Innocent XI. At the request of several Benedictin monasteries in Italy, that pope in a brief, addressed to the Anselmist Benedictin monks at Rome, orders that no professor in their schools ever depart from the theological principles laid down by St. Anselm, which these theologians join with those of St. Austin and St. Thomas Aquinas, to which they are always conformable.

  Only public occasions engaged St. Anselm in this literary career for the defence of the church. It was rather his delight to be employed in the interior exercises of devotion, being himself one of the most eminent masters in the contemplative way; of which spirit his ascetic works will be an eternal monument. They consist of exhortations, prayers, hymns, and meditations, to be best read in the new edition of his works by the Benedictins. They are written with a moving unction, and express a most tender devotion, especially to the cross and passion of Christ, to the holy sacrament of the altar, and to the Blessed Virgin; and an ardent love of God, and of our divine Redeemer. Eadmer, his disciple and constant companion, who has given us his life in two books, and a separate book of New Transactions (chiefly containing the saint’s public actions and troubles) has also left us the book of his Similitudes, collected from his maxims and sentences. He informs us that the saint used to say, that if he saw hell open and sin before him, he would leap into the former, to avoid the latter. Such indeed are to be the dispositions of every good Christian: but only an extraordinary impulse of fervour like this saint’s, can make such metaphysical suppositions seasonable. The same author relates a vision seen by the saint, representing the world like a fœtid torrent, the persons drowned in which, seemed carried down by its impetuous stream. The last edition of St. Anselm’s works was given by Gerberon, the Maurist monk, in 1675, reprinted in 1721. 
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Note 7. Bullar. Rom. t. 1, p. 441, and Clemens XI. Op. t. 2, p. 1215. [back]

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume IV: April. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.


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