August 7: Out of Focus: Saint Anselm

On St. Anselm’s day, back in April, the pupils and staff of St. Anselm’s School celebrated their feast inside Canterbury Cathedral. Watch out when you introduce modern technology into revered places, though! People can get alarmed, and photos go out of focus. I wanted to present the people in the background: Franciscan Study Centre Principal Tom Reist joined the guest preacher, in the centre here, Fr. Dermott Donnelley, who had travelled all the way from Newcastle to share his thoughts. Fr. Derrmott is related to the TV presenters Ant and Dec, which may be why he was thinking about how obsessed people are with celebrities and selfies.

He began his homily by holding up an iphone, to reassure the teenagers that he was not some stuffy, out of touch cleric. What did we think about when we looked at our pictures over and over on Facebook?, he wondered. It’s a bit cheesy, he admitted, but isn’t it as case of ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall’? Like Princesses we want others outside our own reality to tell us how fair we are, what we could be, whether out lives matter of not. But that is fatal. It’s just a way of not being our true selves. We mustn’t compare ourselves to other people.  We can end like the foolish man in the reading from Matthew 7: 24-27, who built his house on sand: floods rose, gales blew, and our house crumbled and fell.

So let’s have a rhyme to remember about how not to think:

“Tell me quickly, Instagram!

Who do you really say I am?”
Look inwards and God will show us our genuine self.

It is what St. Anselm himself would encourage, as the foundation in faith: letting Christ bring our true selves back into an authentic focus.



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