Saint Anselm 1033 -
Features a biography of the prolific theologian and reports on his conflicts with the secular leaders over the issue of Church versus State.
Anselm is the most important Christian theologian in
the West between Augustine and Thomas
Aquinas. His two great accomplishments are his Proslogium (in which
he undertakes to show that Reason requires that men should believe in
God), and his Cur Deus Homo? (in which he undertakes to show that
Divine Love responding to human rebelliousness requires that God should
become a man).
He was born in Italy about 1033, and in 1060 he
entered the monastery of Bec in Normandy to study under Stephen Lanfranc,
whom he succeeded in office, first as prior of Bec, and later as
Archbishop of Canterbury.
Anselm was an Italian born, Benedictine English
philosophical theologian. He is best known for his ontological argument
for the existence of God, and the satisfaction theory of the Atonement.
His Monologion and Proslogion both deal
extensively with his ontological proofs for God's existence, and the
hierarchical order of the universe.
As a metaphysician Anselm was a realist, and one of
his earliest works, De fide Trinitatis, was an attack on the
doctrine of the Trinity as expounded by the nominalist Roscelin. His
most celebrated works are the Monologium and Proslogium,
both aiming to prove the existence and nature of God. The Cur deus
homo, in which he develops views of atonement and satisfaction which
are still held by orthodox theologians. The two first named were written
at Bec. The last was begun in England " in great tribulation of
heart," and finished at Schiavi, a mountain villaffe of Apulia,
where Anselm enjoyed a few months of rest in 1098. His meditations and
prayers are edifying and often highly impressive. In the Monologium he
argues that from the idea of being there follows the idea of a highest
and absolute, i.e. self-existent Being, from which all other being
derives its existences revival of the ancient cosmological argument...
Come on now little man, get away from your worldly
occupations for a while, escape from your tumultuous thoughts. Lay aside
your burdensome cares and put off your laborious exertions. Give
yourself over to God for a little while, and rest for a while in Him.
Enter into the cell of your mind, shut out everything except God and
whatever helps you to seek Him once the door is shut. Speak now, my
heart, and say to God, "I seek your face; your face, Lord, I
Come on then, my Lord God, teach my heart where and
how to seek you, where and how to find you. Lord, if you are not here,
where shall I find you? If, however, you are everywhere, why do I not
see you here? But certainly you dwell in inaccessible light. And where
is that inaccessible light? Or how do I reach it? Or who will lead me to
it and into it, so that I can see you in it? And then by what signs,
under what face shall I seek you? I have never seen you, my Lord God, or
known your face. What shall I do, Highest Lord, what shall this exile
do, banished far from you as he is? What should your servant do,
desperate as he is for your love yet cast away from your face? He longs
to see you, and yet your face is too far away from him. He wants to come
to you, and yet your dwelling place is unreachable. He yearns to
discover you, and he does not know where you are. He craves to seek you,
and does not know how to recognize you. Lord, you are my Lord and my
God, and I have never seen you. You have made me and nurtured me, given
me every good thing I have ever received, and I still do not know you. I
was created for the purpose of seeing you, and I still have not done the
thing I was made to do...
There is almost no doubt that you thwart nature in
your daily fasting. This is not unknown to me. What amazes me most is
that after long fasts you take your usual food, not because nature
requires it, but because someone on your personal staff insists.
Frequent reports from reliable witnesses have persuaded me of the truth
of this. I have also learned that your intake of food is so scanty that
you might be said to have done a violence to nature by deliberately
weakening it rather than by attacking it directly.
With the inmost affection of my heart I order you and
beg your religion to take care of this Robert, with that joyful piety
and pious joy with which all Christians ought to help and assist one
fleeing from Judaism to Christianity. Let no poverty or other
accident which we can avert cause him to regret having left his parents
and their Law for Christ's sake. . . . Do not let him and his little
family suffer any harsh want, but let him rejoice that he has passed
from perfidy to the true faith, and prove by our piety that our faith is
nearer to God than the Jewish. For I would prefer, if necessary,
that there should be spent in this all that belongs to me from the rents
of the archdeaconry, and even much more, rather than that he who has
fled out of the hands of the devil to the servants of God should live in
misery amongst us. . . .