Tag Archives: Year of St Anselm

Saint Anselm: beauty as as order

St Anselm detail.jpgSaint Anselm is a towering figure in monastic, theological and philosophical circles whose works take diligence in getting your mind around. Even centuries later he speaks with precision. Saint Anselm of Canterbury (c. 1033-1109) an Italian by birth, Anselm held various academic and ecclesial titles; he was the archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 until his death in 1109. The Church tells us he is the father of scholasticism and famous for the ontological argument for God’s existence. Though never formally canonized –the process was not developed then– Anselm was acknowledged a saint by Clement XI and named a Doctor of the Church (1 of 33). One point I noticed recently about Saint Anselm and the promotion of truth is this…

…when each single creature keeps, either by nature or by reason, its proper place [in the order of things] –it is said to obey God and to honor him. … When a rational nature wills what it ought to, it honors God –not because it confers anything on Him but because it willingly submits itself to His will and governance. And, as best it can, it stays in its proper place in the universe and preserves the beauty of the universe. 
Cur Deus Homo, 1:15
So what Saint Anselm is saying, the premise from which order and beauty is deduced is Saint Benedict’s intention that the monk [and today, all Christians] seek the glory of God in all things. For Anselm and therefore us, beauty in keeping the proper order of things is obediential in front of God; that is, it is about keeping a fitting sense of friendship with the Trinitarian God. On this feast of Saint Anselm, let us prefer nothing to Christ seeking God’s glory above all.
You may be interested in reading Pope Saint Pius X’s encyclical for the 800th anniversary of Saint Anselm’s birth, Communium rerum (1909).

Saint Anselm’s prayer for the Birth of Our Lady

In Honor of Our Lady’s Nativity

Saint Anselm of Canterbury

Thumbnail image for Nativity of the Theotokos.jpg

that I may praise thee, O sacred Virgin; give me strength against thine
enemies, and against the enemy of the whole human race. Give me strength humbly
to pray to thee. Give me strength to praise thee in prayer with all my powers,
through the merits of thy most sacred nativity, which for the entire Christian
world was a birth of joy, the hope and solace of its life.

When thou wast born,
O most holy Virgin, then was the world made light. Happy is thy stock, holy thy
root, and blessed thy fruit, for thou alone as a virgin, filled with the Holy
Spirit, didst merit to conceive thy God, as a virgin to bear Thy God, as a
virgin to bring Him forth, and after His birth to remain a virgin.

Have mercy
therefore upon me a sinner, and give me aid, O Lady, so that just as thy
nativity, glorious from the seed of Abraham, sprung from the tribe of Juda,
illustrious from the stock of David, didst announce joy to the entire world, so
may it fill me with true joy and cleanse me from every sin.

Pray for me, O
Virgin most prudent, that the gladsome joys of thy most helpful nativity may
put a cloak over all my sins. O holy Mother of God, flowering as the lily, pray
to thy sweet Son for me, a wretched sinner. Amen.

Power of freedom

…[freedom] is so powerful that as long as a man wills to use it nothing is able to remove from him the … uprightness (i.e., justice) which he has. By contrast, justice is not a natural possession.

Saint Anselm, De Concordia

Anselm’s view of sin

Suppose you were to find yourself in the presence of God and
someone were to give you the command: “Look in that direction.” And suppose
that, on the contrary, God were to say: “I am absolutely unwilling for you to
look.” Ask yourself in your heart what there is, among all existing things, for
the sake of which you ought to take that look in violation of God’s will.

Saint Anselm of Canterbury, Cur Deus Homo

What does justice/rectitude require?

Justice/rectitude requires reason because “… a nature which does not know rightness is not able to will it.”

Saint Anselm, De Veritate

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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