Monday, April 21, 2014

St. Anselm

Happy Feast of St. Anselm!
We will just start out by saying he is "one among the noblest worthies in the British Isles."  Holy Cow...and I didn't even know...but let me tell you, I will try to condense what I read, there is a ton of information on him! He was born in Italy and had a strong faith from an early age (which probably had to do with his mother's piety and instruction).  He desired a vocation from an early age, but his father opposed.  His dad treated him harshly, and when he died, Anselm left home (his mom had died by this point).  During this lapse in time, Anselm neglected his calling to the vocation and lived a rather worldly life.  (I have heard of many a priest and monk who felt a calling to a life in Christ, but either due to a lack of support or a personal fear, rebelled against it.  I have even spoken to one who lived a life of drugs, alcohol and theft.  Even landing in jail before realizing his calling was to the Church.  I guess the point here is, if your child has a calling toward a vocation, don't deny them, you will only cause your own heartaches!)  He finally landed in France at a Benedictine abbey.  There he became a monk there and in 1073 became abbot of Caen and later abbot of Bec.  He would visit Canterbury, England as part of his duties.  His kindness won him many English followers.  During 3 years of the reign of William the Red, the see of Canterbury remained empty, during which Anselm did not visit.  In 1902 he finally returned to conduct business.  Upon trying to leave and return to France, he was restrained and appointed archbishop of Canterbury.  Anselm wrote Monologum (Monologue), Cur Deus Homo? (Why Did God Become Man), and Proslogium (Addition).  He also spoke for the abolition of the slave trade and the importance of celibacy of priests.  There are traditions saying the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him and that many miracles are attributed to him.  Naturally, King Henry VIII had his shrine in Canterbury destroyed.
believed in the supremacy of the Pope in all matters, which we all know is a terrible blow to the secular leader of a nation, so Anselm met with great resistance when he tried to go to Rome to receive the pallium from Pope Urban II.  The compromise was the king sending a legate to pick-it-up for him.  Naturally, Anselm didn't want it when it came.  They made it all work, had a ceremony, placed the pallium upon the altar and it was accepted.  Finally, 4 years later he was allowed to visit Rome and meet with the Pope, here he was able to finish some work and even be an adviser to Pope Urban for a time.  King William died tragically and Anselm returned to England to console Henry I, the heir to the throne.  Another squabble ensued over the supremacy of the king-vs-that of the Pope.  Eventually, Henry I agreed to granting the Church freedom from politics of the king.  This reinforced papal authority.  Anslem returned to England to serve the Church and king.  He served as regent of England while Henry was in Normandy.  He earned the title of "Father of Scholasticism."  Among his writings were

That's a lot of information for me.  What can I say, I'm more of a short and sweet kind of person and less of a biography person.  Secretly, I wish there were sports hi-lights for saints, but there aren't.  So what are we to gain from St. Anselm and his extremely long story?  Well, I suppose the long and short, for me, is St. Anselm's inability to settle on the big issue.  Who should regulate and make decisions for the Church--naturally, the Church!  Kings and secular governments have no authority to make decisions over the leaders of the Church, no more than the Pope should choose the next president of the United States.  (Ok, maybe that could help some.....but still, NO).  While the 10 commandments should rule over our every decision, church and state need some degree of separation.  I know that is not coming out as it should, let me clarify--we SHOULD be allowed to pray publicly, in church, in school, on the corner of Main St., at the city council meetings, anywhere; we SHOULD be allowed to display and teach the 10 commandments, they are moral laws that should govern us; we SHOULD be allowed to speak of God and his greatness anywhere at any time without fear of ridicule; the BIBLE is a great work of literature, even if you do not believe in it, the Bible should be taught and read in school (I know I crossed someone's line here, but it is a great work of literature and it does have wonderful moral teachings that would help society as a whole-admit it, even if you don't believe in God-murder, adultery and theft are wrong).  Then how should we be separated?  My priest should not choose the next mayor of my town.  While a citizen, my priest should not be on city council.  There are just places he should not serve.  He should shepherd his flock, lead the church, teach what the Church teaches, and if all of these things are done, it is up to me and my fellow parishioners to follow God's teachings and lead our city and government.

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