Tag Archives: Saint Anselm

22 April: A Prayer of Saint Anselm

Saint Anselm’s chapel, Canterbury

O Lord our God,
Grant us the grace to desire you with our whole heart;
that desiring, we may seek, and, seeking, find you;
and finding you, may love you;
and loving you, may hate those sins
from which you have redeemed us. Amen

Anselm is remembered by Anglicans and Catholics alike.

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21 April: Saint Anselm

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Canterbury Cathedral.

Our second saintly Archbishop this week is Anselm, honoured by Anglican and Catholic Christians alike.

Anselm was a monk, as many Archbishops of Canterbury have been. He even followed the man who had been his own Abbot in becoming Archbishop. That man was Lanfranc, of Bec in Normandy, the first Archbishop to be appointed after the Norman conquest.

Anselm had gone to Bec, from the Val d’Aosta in Northern Italy for the love of learning and to study under Lanfranc, and he later greatly increased the academic standards at Christ Church Priory, the monastery attached to the Cathedral. We have quite a few of his writings which have had influence internationally and over time. Here is an extract, very appropriate for Eastertide, from the beginning of his Meditation on Human Redemption.*

Christian Soul, brought to life again out of the heaviness of death, redeemed and set free from the wretchedness of servitude by the blood of God, rouse yourself and remember that you have been redeemed and set free. Consider again the strength of your salvation and where it is found. meditate upon it, delight in the contemplation of it. Shake off your lethargy and set your mind to thinking over these things. Taste the goodness of your Redeemer, be on fire with love for your Saviour.

*The Prayers and Meditations of St Anselm, tr Sister Benedicta Ward, Penguin 1973, p231.

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Going viral XIX: Where is God?

It was a headline in another website: ‘Where is God in a pandemic?’ followed by ‘We don’t know, but can you believe in a God that you don’t understand?’

I wonder, can I believe in a God that I do understand? S/He would hardly be a God – or a god – if I could understand him or her! Faith seeks understanding, says Saint Anselm, faith does not depend on understanding.

The Passion – that is, the life and death of Jesus – tells us that God is here in our suffering as he is in our joys. We pray for all suffering from illness, those caring for them in any way, and those who have been bereaved, and all who have died.

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27 March, Desert XXVIII: a quiet corner lit up

In the morning, before the rush of visitors, Saint Anselm’s chapel can be quiet; a desert place. Your eyes can turn to the window with its perennial question, ‘CUR DEUS HOMO’? Or, ‘why did God become man?’ Or you can turn towards the light cast by the window on the opposite wall. Pray with or without words.

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19 March: Before the Cross VI: Why?

 

Saint Anselm’s feast falls on 21st April, Easter Day this year. So let’s visit him during Lent, reflecting on Good Friday and Easter with another Archbishop of Canterbury.

The crypt of Canterbury Cathedral was closed as they prepared for a service, so I went upstairs to Saint Anselm and sat opposite his post-war window. The focal point, it seemed to me that morning, was not the central figure of Anselm in bishop’s robes and pallium, holding his cross and giving his blessing, but the three Latin words on the book below the Saint and the descending dove of the Holy Spirit:

CUR DEUS HOMO

in English we would say, ‘Why did God become Man?’ Look again at the open book. There is also a sturdy tree on the page, a reminder of the Cross; it bears a cruciform flower. And indeed, Bishop Anselm carries a cross, not unlike the one we saw in the photograph from Algeria in the first post in this series. 

in his introductory chapter, Anselm says, ‘to my mind it appears a neglect if, after we are established in the faith, we do not seek to understand what we believe.’ We cannot disagree with that, even if we find his rather legalistic argument off-putting. 

Where Scotus would later argue that God wanted to become man anyway, Anselm argues that the way for sinful man to be reconciled to God was for the perfect sacrifice to be offered in atonement. A perfect sacrifice could only be offered by a perfect man, and that man was Jesus, and the perfect sacrifice was his death at the hands of sinners.

On the other hand, Anselm’s successor, Rowan Williams, argued in a Lenten talk in this cathedral that Christ lived a life-long passion: his whole life was a sacrifice, making holy the human race and all of creation. Here is Anselm (II.viii):

No man except this one ever gave to God what he was not obliged to lose, or paid a debt he did not owe. But he freely offered to the Father what there was no need of his ever losing, and paid for sinners what he owed not for himself. 

We are all obliged to lose our lives, but we can learn, not just from Anselm’s writings, but from his example. He left home to travel to Bec in Normandy to become a monk; at Bec he became a teacher and leader of the community before he was sent as Archbishop to Canterbury, where he continued teaching. But as Archbishop he had other duties, and was exiled twice for opposing the Norman Kings of England, William II and Henry I. He risked the same fate as Alphege his predecessor,  his successor Thomas, and his crucified Master.

‘Freely offered to the Father’ sounds like love to me, as does ‘lifelong passion’, as does Friar Austin’s view that:

Jesus is revealed in a life no longer under threat. The Resurrection is the realisation of his message of total freedom.

Different views of the same event, which was not Good Friday only, but the 33 years before that, and Easter Sunday and the eternity following that.

The text of Cur Deus Homo can be found here .

 

MMB.

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21 April: Feast of Saint Anselm of Canterbury.

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Today is the feast of Saint Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury. You can read about him at Anglican Resources.  There, too, you can find this prayer.

My God,
I pray that I may so know you and love you
that I may rejoice in you.
And if I may not do so fully in this life
let me go steadily on
to the day when I come to that fullness …
Let me receive
That which you promised through your truth,
that my joy may be full

Some of the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral is from Anselm’s time (1093-1109).

MMB.

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13 September: ‘Her Father Took Some Persuading’.

 

Mr Noah

Mr Noah

‘Her Father Took Some Persuading’ – that’s what I wrote about Saint Eanswythe yesterday. Eanswythe wanted to found a monastery for women, a place of prayer, community and scholarship.

Thank God these gifts are available freely now to women in many parts of the world. In Eanswythe’s Kent Saint Anselm’s Catholic School offers all three. My daughter is now a teacher herself, working with four- and five-year-olds.

Did I take much persuading to act as Mr Noah for one of her projects? Why hit on me for the job, anyway? Judge for yourself and then enjoy the Lord’s sense of humour.

 And he said to them: Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and shall say to him: Friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine is come off his journey to me, and I have not what to set before him. And he from within should answer, and say: Trouble me not, the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. Yet if he shall continue knocking, I say to you, although he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend; yet, because of his importunity, he will rise, and give him as many as he needeth.

And I say to you, Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. 

And which of you, if he ask his father bread, will he give him a stone? or a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he reach him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father from heaven give the good Spirit to them that ask him?

Luke 11: 5-13.

MMB.

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August 7: Out of Focus: Saint Anselm

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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.

 

CD.

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April 3 – The Journey of Conversion andDiscipleship

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The traditional Stations of the Cross invite us to re-enact the Passion and Death of Jesus, pausing for reflection and prayer at ‘Stations’ along the way. The focus for ‘the Stations’ has traditionally been on only a part of the Gospel narrative, the Passion and Death of Jesus, and it has been recognised that that was too narrow and had to be extended to include the Resurrection, without which the Way of the Cross could never be complete. Much can be gained, I think, by extending it still further to encompass the entire narrative of the Gospel, recognising that ‘the Way of the Cross’ is actually the Way of the Gospel, of discipleship—‘Take up your cross and follow me’.

I suggest we take one text—St Luke’s account of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus [Luke 24:13-35]—and use it as a template for our own ‘Stations’ on our journey of faith, our learning to be disciples in the reality of our lives and of the Church as we experience it today.

After reading the text it will help to offer a bird’s eye view of the overall movement, noting how it opens with two dispirited disciples leaving Jerusalem after the crucifixion of Jesus and ends with them hurrying back, at the end of the same day, to re-join the community they had just left, eager to tell the others what has happened to them. What we want to do is not just understand what happened to them that accounts for this dramatic turn-around, but to try to position ourselves at each Station in the narrative, looking for correlates in our own experience—as individuals, as a group, as Church.

JMcC

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“The Joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew…

“The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.”

Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium [1-2]

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Interruption – God’s life-giving presence in this world.

 

chich.starceiling (785x800)Here is a homily from Fr John McCluskey MHM that reflects on Advent, Climate Change and our not-so-Great Expectations being surpassed by God. Look in Occasional Homilies Now!

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