St. Anselm

“O God, who did give blessed Anselm to be your people’s minister in eternal salvation grant we pray, that we who have him for teacher of life here on earth, may also deserve now that he is in heaven, to have him for an advocate.”

St. Anselm lived at the time of the Norman invasion into Britain, way back in the day – 1066 of course.

He had done some wandering in life, finally was brought to the fullness of the Truth, renounced his estate and proceeds, and had professed his life to the Lord.

He got along well King William except for one major dispute. It didn’t really start out as a dispute but ended up being one: Anselm thought that the Church should govern itself, and be a universal Church under the headship of the Pope.  King William considered that the Church should be the subject of the King.  (We see how that line of thought has turned out.)

After hearing the King’s Confession and consoling him on his deathbed, the King recovered and had Anselm dragged to the Cathedral to be installed as Archbishop of Canterbury.  The Church, ever imitating our Lord Himself and being ever dramatic, said no – St. Anselm’s community said no; he didn’t want to go.  But in the end, off he went.

One of his conditions for taking the appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury, was that the King give the Church back all of its lands and revenues which were stolen by the Crown in the Norman invasion.  The King initially agreed, but great controversy ensued when Anselm wanted to travel to Rome to receive the pallium from the Holy Father.

The controversy, known as the Investiture Controversy, was about whether a King – a layman – should invest the Archbishop, or whether the Holy Father – a cleric – should invest the Archbishop.  The lands and revenues were once again seized.

Anselm eventually travelled to Rome to have the matter settled (the Holy Father invests clerics,) and while he was there helped to add the Filoque clause to the Nicene Creed, furthering the Great Schism which had come about when the Greek Church refused to accept the addition of the clause, saying that it’s a later addition to the Creed.  (“Et in Spíritum Sanctum, Dóminum et vivificántem: qui ex Patre Filióque procédit”; or “And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and from the Son.)

Don’t you just have a huge picture of Queen Elizabeth returning the Church’s property to the Church?

“A bottle of wine, Holiness. For you.  And one for Benedict, too.”

Anyway! St. Anselm was a great philosopher, homilist and Priest.  One who would definitely not linger typing up little articles about a great saint instead of getting ready for Mass.

And I am off, following his example.


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