Sunday, April 22, 2012


Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his 7th anniversary as Pope this year. Before becoming Archbishop of Munich, the then Father Joseph Ratzinger was a Professor of theology at several university faculties in Germany. His papacy has been marked by his sublime theological observations in his speeches and homilies. What surprises many people is that he can also articulate profound ideas on a level young children can understand. This was demonstrated in his first year as Pope, when he answered questions in St. Peter’s Square from children about to receive their first Holy Communion.

“I was intrigued at the thought of the scholar speaking to young children,” said artist Ann Engelhart. “When I heard he would be speaking to these children in Rome, I thought I would love to hear what he has to say to them. It was a very important conversation directed to children, but on their level.”

She soon contacted writer Amy Welborn to speak about collaborating on a book about the encounter.

“It was a beautiful event. I wanted to be able to make it available to children and families in a format that would be usable for them,” Engelhart told Vatican Radio.

The book is called Friendship With Jesus: Pope Benedict XVI Speaks to Children on their First Holy Communion. It is a picture book which combines the words of the Pope with wonderful watercolour paintings by Engelhart.

“It was a very important conversation directed to children, but on their level. As always, Pope Benedict doesn’t really talk down to children, he speaks to them.”



KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS RELEASE: National Catholic Prayer Breakfast
Ladies and gentlemen, my fellow Catholics and my fellow Americans:
We come together at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast to publicly offer thanks for the blessings of American liberty, a freedom which, in its extent and its endurance, is unique in human history.
We also come to publicly affirm our determination to preserve that liberty, for us and for our fellow citizens, and to ask the Lord’s guidance in doing so.
There are times when we need that help more than others.
This is such a time.
I venture to say that, never in the lifetime of anyone present here, has the religious liberty of the American people been as threatened as it is today.
Of some things, we should not need to be reminded.
There are some truths and some historical realities which should not need repeating.
But in today’s society and in this year’s official Washington we must repeat them.
We must remind our fellow Americans, and especially those who exercise power, that religious liberty—the freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment—has been essential to the founding, development, and improvement of the American Republic.
Before there was an American Revolution, there was what historians call the First Great Awakening, which swept through the colonies and transformed their outlook.
The Second Great Awakening led to the abolition of slavery, as well as the other great reform movements of the nineteenth century.
A third wave of religious energy led to reforms in education, labor, and women’s rights.
Alexis de Tocqueville observed the profound connection between religion and liberty in our national life.
“Religion does not give [Americans] their taste for freedom, he said. “It singularly facilitates their use of it.”
We may ask: Is this historical connection between Christianity and liberty an accident of history or is it something fundamental?
Our Founders answered that question unequivocally.
They declared we are “endowed” by our “Creator” with inalienable rights.
Washington’s Farewell Address insisted that religion and morality are “indispensible supports of our political prosperity,” warning that “reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can be retained without religion.”
Adams asserted that “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is,” he said, “wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Those views have echoed down through our history.
Perhaps most notably in 1961 when President Kennedy, in his Inaugural Address, spoke of the rights for which our “forebears fought,” namely “the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.”
According to a poll we conducted for the 50th anniversary of that speech, 85 percent of Americans still agree with Kennedy’s statement.
No one here needs to be reminded that this belief was the driving force behind the life’s work of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
In his historic letter from the Birmingham jail, Rev. King said that he and his followers “were in reality standing up for what is best in the American dream and for the most sacred values in our Judeo-Christian heritage, thereby bringing our nation back to those great wells of democracy which,” he said, “were dug deep by the founding fathers in their formulation of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.”
But perhaps we do need to be reminded that King’s letter relied upon our own Catholic natural law tradition.
He cited Saint Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”
And he asked, “How does one determine when a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.”
He then went on to say, “To put it in the terms of Saint Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law.”
There you have the ancient teaching of the Catholic Church, summed up by a Baptist preacher under arrest for living by it.
When you visit the new memorial to Dr. King on our national mall, read carefully the 14 quotations inscribed there.
You will not find a single reference to God.
Not one.
Imagine how those in authority must have searched to come up with 14 quotes of Dr. King without one mention of the Almighty.
There is no more shocking symbol of the ongoing campaign to drive religion out of our public life.
King’s statue looks across the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial dedicated to the president who is now championed by secularists for inventing a “wall of separation” between Church and State.
Ironically, while the King Memorial was scrubbed of any reference to our Creator, in Mr. Jefferson’s memorial, the walls tell us that “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty.”
And they ask us, “Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”
A great deal hinges on how we answer that question.
On the occasion of receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature, Alexander Solzhenitsyn spoke of the ideological manipulation of history that occurred in Russia under Soviet communism.
It was, he said, “a closing, a locking up, of the national heart, [and an] amputation of the national memory.”
He warned that when this happens, a nation “has no memory of its own self. It is deprived of its spiritual unity. And even though compatriots apparently speak the same language, they suddenly cease to understand one another.”
Solzhenitsyn devoted his life to prevent the militant atheists in his country from destroying the soul of the Russian people by re-writing their history.
How would Solzhenitsyn have viewed the controversy surrounding the King Memorial?
Would he have seen it as preserving the spiritual unity of America or as one more symptom of a trend to separate Americans from their religious heritage?
In 1954, the Knights of Columbus was instrumental in having Congress place the words “under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance.
Those words were placed in our pledge in part to mark a stark contrast between the ultimate source of our rights and the pretensions of the atheist totalitarian dictatorships of the twentieth century.
These pretensions were well summarized by Benito Mussolini in 1919 when he said: “Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, everything for the state.”
Yet today we find a new hostility to the role of religious institutions in American life at a time when government is expanding its reach in extraordinary ways.
And it is not only because of the Obama Administration’s HHS contraception mandate.
It may have gotten the most attention, but it wasn’t the first.
Arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court in Hosanna-Tabor versus EEOC last year, the Administration sought unprecedented limits on the autonomy of churches and religious institutions.
The Administration argued that if any “ministerial exception” in employment exists it should be strictly “limited to those employees who perform exclusively religious functions.”
That caused Chief Justice John Roberts to ask during oral argument whether even the pope could meet the Administration’s definition of a religious minister.
The Supreme Court unanimously disagreed with the Administration saying, “We are unsure whether any such employees exist,” because even the highest ranking churchmen have “a mix of duties.”
Similarly, the HHS mandate allows only the narrowest exemption for religious institutions.
The exemption exists only for institutions that, among other things, hire and serve only members of their own faith.
As Cardinal Daniel DiNardo put it: “Jesus himself, or the Good Samaritan … would not qualify as ‘religious enough’ for the exemption, since they insisted on helping people who did not share their view of God.”
Christians are called to reach beyond their own denominations in teaching “all nations,” considering everyone their “neighbor,” and doing “good to those who hate” them.
So in a country where three quarters of the population professes to be Christian, the Administration insists upon a religious exemption that Christ himself cannot meet.
In the Hosanna-Tabor case, the Administration sought to impose a new definition of ministry so narrow that ministers didn’t fit it.
In its HHS mandate, the Administration insists on an exemption so narrow that organizations can qualify only by violating the teaching of their church.
Consider if the Administration’s view in the Hosanna-Tabor case had prevailed.
Churches and religious institutions would have found themselves at the mercy of what the Supreme Court unanimously characterized as “government interference with an internal church decision that affects the faith and mission of the church itself.”

Precisely the same can be said of the HHS mandate.
A government willing to affect the faith and mission of the church is a government willing to change the identity of the church.
And what can we expect in the future?
The National Right to Life Committee makes a compelling case that the Obama Administration’s “accommodation” for the HHS mandate – if accepted – paves the way for mandated coverage of “abortion on demand.”
But if the HHS mandate and the Hosanna-Tabor case have been among the most egregious assaults on religious liberty, they are not the only ones.
Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services denied renewed funding of the Catholic Church’s work with victims of human trafficking.
The Conference of Catholic Bishops had successfully administered the program for five years, but after the ACLU filed suit demanding that the program refer women for abortions and contraception, HHS restructured the program.
As a result, highly qualified providers such as the Catholic Church are now barred from the program because they cannot, in good conscience, provide what HHS calls the “full range” of reproductive services—namely abortion and contraception.
Once again the Administration’s logic is consistent: faith-based groups may apply only if their “faith and mission” are acceptable to the government.
Earlier, the Obama Administration applied a similar standard to individual rights of conscience when it “rescinded most of a federal regulation that protected workers who refuse to perform services they find morally objectionable.”1Healthcare workers now face the choice of holding onto either their religious beliefs or their jobs.
In other words, if the health care institution provides services contrary to Catholic moral teaching, Catholic doctors and nurses need not apply.
And so, we see a new government intolerance of religion.
Perhaps this is why Cardinal Francis George has referred to the Obama Administration as “the most secularist administration I think we have ever had in this country.”
During his visit to Washington Pope Benedict XVI reminded us that: “Christians are easily tempted to conform themselves to the spirit of this age.”
The spirit of our age is profoundly secular.
And secularism accepts religion – if it accepts it at all – only on its own terms.
Under this view, religion is subordinated to the political interests of the secular state.
And it is precisely this subordination of religion to the state that the First Amendment seeks to prevent.
Let us be clear: we value religious liberty not only because it protects our personal autonomy.
We value religious liberty because of the goodwhich religion brings into the life of the individual believer and into the life of our nation.
Before he was elected pope, Cardinal Josef Ratzinger wrote that “neither embrace nor ghetto” can solve for the Church the problem of secular society.2Instead, Cardinal Ratzinger counseled that we must constructively engage secularism.
The question for us is, “How do we as Catholics go about doing this in the United States today?”
Last year the Secretary of Health and Human Services told a NARAL luncheon, “We are in a war.”
I sincerely hope we can put away such partisan rhetoric.
We do not need a government that sees itself at “war” with its own citizens.
We should counsel a different approach.
Awaiting execution in the Tower of London, St. Thomas More wrote a prayer which we have included in our Knights of Columbus prayer book.
During this national prayer breakfast we can make that prayer our own.
“Almighty God, have mercy …on all that bear me evil will,
And would me harm,
And their faults and mine together… vouchsafe to amend and redress,
Make us saved souls in heaven together,
Where we may ever live and love together with Thee and Thy blessed saints….” Amen.
As Christians we are called to be witnesses.
But to be true witnesses we must preserve our Catholic identity—and like St. Thomas More—preserve it especially from the heavy hand of government.
We are also called to sustain our witness through prayer.
How appropriate then that our bishops have called upon us to take up a great fortnight of prayer for religious freedom from the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More to July 4th.
During the current HHS controversy some have asked, “What kind of Christians would impose such a government mandate on our religious institutions?”
In December, 1941, with Britain in mortal peril and America reeling after Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill addressed the United States Congress.
In that worst of times, he scorned the enemies of freedom and defiantly asked, “What kind of people do they think we are!”
Today, with the same defiance, we can declare, “What kind of Catholics do they think we are!”
Do they really expect us to go gently into that dark night they are preparing for religious liberty in America?
Do they not know that people who believe in “one holy catholic and apostolic church” can never agree to compromise our Church by entangling it in intrinsically evil acts?
Do they not see that faithful Catholics will never accept cynical political strategies of “divide and conquer” to separate us from our bishops?
You and I have reason for hope.
We have been successful in the past.
Consider, for example, the national campaign in the 1920s by the Ku Klux Klan to close our Catholic schools.
They succeeded in the State of Oregon until the Knights of Columbus and others succeeded in having the law declared unconstitutional by the U. S. Supreme Court.
In its landmark decision in Pierce versus Society of Sisters the Court protected the rights of parents—of all denominations—to guide the education and moral upbringing of their children.
When we seek by such means to preserve our own identity as Catholics we are not a divisive force in society.
To the contrary, actions that respect our religious diversity benefit all Americans.
Earlier this month we observed the anniversary of the death of Blessed John Paul II.
On that occasion many of us again recalled his words at the beginning of his great pontificate:
“Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ.”
We live in a time when, from the standpoint of religious liberty, it seems that there are more doors closing, than doors that are opening.
John Paul II often spoke of “a new springtime” of the Gospel.
If he had been an American, he might have spoken of a new Great Awakening in America.
One in which Catholics could play a greater role than ever before.
Every great religious renewal in America has led to an advance in civil rights—from the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights to the end of slavery and the pursuit of racial equality.
But all of this has been achieved in the face of established power structures strongly and often violently opposed to these rights.
So this is a time for choosing—choosing whether as Catholics we will stand together to keep open the doors of religious liberty.
If we do so, then we will make possible the next great awakening in America that will bring us closer to building that culture of life and that civilization of love about which John Paul II so often spoke.
May we, like Blessed John Paul II, be not afraid in our choosing.
Thank you very much.
2Principles of Catholic Theology (1982) p. 391.



Theme for Symposium: ‘The Ecclesiology of Communion Fifty Years after the Opening of Vatican II’

Theology Symposium, 50th International Eucharistic Congress 2012, hosted by the Faculty of Theology, St Patrick’s College Maynooth, 6-9 June 2012
What does it mean to say that the Church is a communion and how does this relate to other themes such as the Eucharist, and Reconciliation, the Family, the Priesthood, Ecumenism, Evangelisation and Mission and Economics and Irish Christianity?
How has our understanding of this important idea developed since the Second Vatican Council?
The International Theology Symposium, which takes place the week before the Eucharistic Congress will provide an opportunity to discuss these questions. The Symposium is open to those with a qualification in theology. According to Rev Professor Brendan Leahy, one of the organisers of the Symposium: “The Theology Symposium will explore the vision behind the Ecclesiology of Communion of Vatican II and consider the questions that arise. As an international event, the symposium will be enriched by expert contributions from international scholars across the disciplines of theology: Scripture, Systematics, moral Theology, Liturgy, Pastoral Studies, Missiology and Ecumenics.”
To view the Conference Programme, please click here.
The Papal Legate for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, Marc Cardinal Ouellet, who is head of the Vatican Congregation for bishops and former Archbishop of Quebec (the diocese that hosted the last Eucharistic Congress), will give the keynote opening address on the first day of the Symposium. Kurt Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, will present on the topic of The Church as Communion, Ecumenism and the Eucharist. Oscar Cardinal Rodriguez will also address the gathering on the topic of Mission and the Eucharist.
Professors Salvador Ryan, Brendan Mc Convery from Maynooth and Jennifer O’ Reilly (formerly UCC) will present on “The Eucharist, Communion and the People in Irish Christianity.” Dr Martin Stufflesser (Würzburg) will speak on the theme of Eucharistic Ecclesiology and the Liturgy; Prof Brian Johnstone (CUA) on the “Sacraments as gifts of the rising Christ” and Dr. Clare Watkins on “Living Eucharist in the Family Today”. Irish theologians will also be presenting including Dr Dermot Lane on the theme of the “Eucharist and Eschatology”; Fr Michael Drumm (Irish Catholic Schools Partnership) on “Being Educated in Communion”; Prof. Thomas Norris (Maynooth) on the “Reception of the Ecclesiology of Vatican II and the Marian profile of the Church” and Prof. Eamonn Conway (MIC, Limerick) on “Being a Priest in a de-traditionalised cultural context”. Dr Geraldine Smyth (Irish School of Ecumenics) and Robert Enright (Wisconsin-Madigan) will present on “Becoming Eucharist for One Another through Forgiving.”
Other topics and themes are listed in the Programme to be found at the web address below. The lectures will be simultaneously translated into Italian.
In light of the Eucharistic Congress, the Symposium promises to be an important event for theology and for the Church in Ireland at this time.
For Registration online see:
Registration Enquiries: +353-1-2981122
Programme Enquiries: +353-1-2249900


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
20 Apr 2012

Reforms to aged care sector urgently needed
More older Australians will be able to receive aged care in their own homes as part of the Federal Government's $3.7 billion planned overhaul of Australia's Aged Care sector.
Martin Laverty, CEO of Catholic Health Australia (CHA) has welcomed the reforms which were announced in Canberra this morning by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler. But he believes Government has not gone as far as CHA and many in the aged care sector would have liked.
"Not everything the Productivity Commission proposed in its report, Caring for Older Australians, has been endorsed," he said and admitted there was disappointment among those in the sector that aged care is not yet an entitlement for those who are assessed as in need.
Currently, only 113 people per thousand over 70 are able to access care but with the government reforms, this number will increase to 125 per thousand.
"Under the current rationing of aged care, of the 24,000 applications for community aged care services last year, only 1800 were approved," Mr Laverty says, and although this figure will improve thanks to plans outlined by the PM today, he warns many Australians will still miss out.

Aged in residential care will no longer be forced
to sell their own home
However he applauds the fact many more Australians will be able to access care in their own homes and endorses the government's intention to lift its daily accommodation support from $32.58 to $52.84 per bed for new aged care places in a bid to address the lack of incentives for investors in new aged care facilities.
For many years lack of government action and outmoded laws has meant providers of high care beds for the elderly have operated at a loss of $62 per bed each day with the result fewer and fewer new aged care homes have been built.
CHA is nation's largest network of non-government aged care services, accounting for more than 10 percent of all residential and aged care community services and welcomes today's pledge by the PM to deliver an average of $115 million in new funding to the aged sector each year.

Aged care reforms urgently needed
over next decade to meet the needs
of Australia's 4.5 million baby boomers
On behalf of CHA, Mr Laverty also endorsed the government's pledge of $1.2 billion in additional funding for those working in the aged care sector who are currently underpaid by comparison with other healthcare sectors.
But while welcoming many of the reforms, Mr Laverty insists any real success and improvement in quality aged care depends very much on the government, and its willingness and determination to deliver these reforms.
One of the proposals put forward by the Productivity Commission was not only that those who could afford to, contribute to their own care, but that these people be means tested with their homes included as part of the assessment.
While Julia Gillard insisted the family home would not be assessed, the government's reforms will mean self-funded retirees will be asked to pay a greater slice of their care. These costs however will be capped at $25,000 per year and at no more than $60,000 over a lifetime for those in residential care or nursing homes. For those accessing home care, the cost will be capped at $5000 per year for pensioners and $10,000 per year for those on incomes of more than $43,000. This type of care will also be capped at $60,000 during a lifetime.

Martin Laverty CEO of
Catholic Health Australia
Wealthy Australians being asked to chip in more for their aged care has already come under fire from the Opposition and been described as "big new additional charges" by Leader of the Coaalition, Tony Abbott.
But Mr Laverty hopes suggested debate over Australians being asked to contribute to the costs of their care and accommodation will not eclipse the improvements and positive path for structural change outlined today by the Government.
"Any debate on means testing must not overshadow today's announcements which will bring improved palliative care, better support to low income earners, support for disadvantaged groups as well as addressing the special needs of those with Alzheimers and dementia, and their carers," he said. SOURCE:


by J.B. Vu
30th meeting on sacred music held in Saigon April 17, organized by the Vietnamese bishops' conference. Music as an opportunity to attract the younger generations and encounter with non-Christians.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - Music, traditional hymns and choruses are a valid tool of prayer, evangelization and attraction for young Vietnamese victims of a society arid increasingly, and only interested in money. This is what emerges from the 30th Meeting on Sacred Music held last April 17 in Ho Chi Minh City by the Vietnamese bishops' conference.
Sisters of the Diocese of Nha Trang, located in the mountainous highlands of central Vietnam, attending the Meeting, reporting that "many young parishioners are eager to express themselves through song. They are keen to go and teach the songs in the neighboring parishes, despite challenging hazards and unforgiving topography of the area. " Often to get from one village to another, it takes days. "Through the music - they continued - we have attracted many people to Christianity. At Easter we baptized thousands of teenagers."
A special guest at the meeting organized by the Episcopal Conference was Fr. Kim Long, one of the most famous composers of Christian sacred music of Vietnam. Born in 1941 in Bach Tinj in the diocese of Bui Chu in North Vietnam, Fr. Kim studied at the Franciscan seminary in Saigon, where his passion for music was born. After his ordination to the priesthood in 1968, he began to compose Church songs and hymns, mixing Catholic tradition with Vietnamese culture. After the unification of Vietnam and the rise to power of communist dictatorship in 1975, Fr. Kim began secretly to write sacred music and hymns, including Ca Len Di, sung today in most Vietnamese parishes. At the age of 55 years the priest has composed more than 3 thousand songs, music and hymns for the Catholic Church. Today in many churches in Vietnam, especially those victims of persecution by the regime, the congregation sings the hymn "Kinh Hoa Binh," a prayer for peace. Composed in 1960, the song is based on a prayer of St. Francis of Assisi and is popular even among non-Catholics.
"My whole life is tied to sacred music Vietnamese," said Fr. Kim in front of a group of young people attended the meeting. "To compose a beautiful hymn - he said - we need to pray twice. The first is to ask God for the inspiration to write. The second is addressed to the parishioners who need to pray to be able to sing well." At the meeting, the priest announced that in his will he will donate 15 thousand U.S. dollars collected over the years thanks to his songs and donations from the U.S. and his home to the Commission for the sacred music of the Vietnamese Catholic Church.,-hymns-and-traditional-songs-to-evangelize-Vietnam-24561.html


Agenzia Fides report- "The humanitarian situation in northern Mali is worsening day by day. Food and medicine are increasingly rare, because grocery stores, hospitals and health centers were ransacked by the rebels" says to Fides Fr. Edmond Dembele, Secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Mali. "We try to establish humanitarian corridors, but in the absence of an agreement with the rebel movements, for the moment nothing has been done. The population in the north of Mali continue to flee to neighboring Countries or in the south of the Country."
"The Catholic Church has offered its facility to accommodate the refugees who arrive in Bamako and collaborates with the Protestant community to help 250 Protestant Christian refugees who have arrived in the capital. In particular, the Archbishop of Bamako, Mgr. Jean Zerbo, through Caritas has offered rice and other basic necessities. In other areas the refugees are still more numerous. But it is hard help all of them because there is no coordination of efforts at the state level," notes Fr. Dembele.
Politically, the military coup leaders released 22 personalities belonging to the past government and were arrested in past days, while the deposed President, Amadou Toumani Toure and his family, took refuge in Senegal. The new Premier, Diarra, has started talks to form a transitional government (see Fides 18/04/2012).
In a statement issued after the Ordinary Session of the Episcopal Conference, the Bishops of Mali expressed appreciation for the start of the transition to "bring back democracy, restore the State and the Constitution in order to preserve our Country from chaos ". In the document, sent to Fides, the Bishops thanked the ECOWAS mediators for their efforts that have allowed us to reach a compromise, to get Mali out of the institutional crisis caused by the coup on 22 March and ensure their prayers to the President interim, Dioncounda Traore, and Prime Minister, Cheick Modibo Diarra. Recalling that "since January 17, Mali sees three northern regions occupied by some armed groups," the Bishops recall the soldiers and civilians killed and launch an appeal for national unity. "We urge the political class and civil society to put the interests of the country above all. This is simply to save Mali and not the interests of a party or group." (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides


John 6: 16 - 21
16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea,
17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Caper'na-um. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them.
18 The sea rose because a strong wind was blowing.
19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat. They were frightened,
20 but he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid."
21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.


St. Anselm
Feast: April 21

Feast Day: April 21
Born: 1033 at Aosta, Piedmont, Italy
Died: 21 April 1109 at Canterbury, England
Canonized: 1492 by Pope Alexander IV
Major Shrine: Canterbury Cathedral
If the Norman conquerors stripped the English nation of its liberty and many temporal advantages, it must be owned that by their velour they raised the reputation of its arms and deprived their own country of its greatest men, both in church and state, with whom they adorned this kingdom; of which this great doctor and his master Lanfranc are instances. St. Anselm was born of noble parents at Aoust, in Piedmont, about the year 1033. His pious mother took care to give him an early tincture of piety, and the impressions her instructions made upon him were as lasting as his life. At the age of fifteen, desirous of serving God in the monastic state, he petitioned an abbot to admit him into his house; but was refused out of apprehension of his father's displeasure. Neglecting, during the course of his studies, to cultivate the divine seed in his heart, he lost this inclination, and his mother being dead he fell into tepidity; and, without being sensible of the fatal tendency of vanity and pleasure, began to walk in the broad way of the world: so dangerous a thing is it to neglect the inspirations of grace! The saint, in his genuine meditations, expresses the deepest sentiments of compunction for these disorders, which his perfect spirit of penance exceedingly exaggerated to him, and which, like another David, he never ceased most bitterly to bewail to the end of his days. The ill-usage he met with from his father induced him, after his mother's death, to leave his own country, where he had made a successful beginning in his studies; and, after a diligent application to them for three years in Burgundy (then a distinct government) and in France, invited by the great fame of Lanfranc, Prior of Bec, in Normandy, under the Abbot Herluin, he went thither and became his scholar. On his father's death, Anselm advised with him about the state of life he was to embrace; as whether he should live upon his estate to employ its produce in alms, or should renounce it at once and embrace a monastic and eremitical life. Lanfranc, feeling an overbearing affection for so promising a disciple, durst not advise him in his vocation, fearing the bias of his own inclination; but he sent him to Maurillus, the holy Archbishop of Rouen. By him Anselm, after he had laid open to him his interior, was determined to enter the monastic state at Bec, and accordingly became a member of that house at the age of twenty-seven, in 1060, under the Abbot Herluin. Three years after, Lanfranc was made Abbot of St. Stephen's at Caen, and Anselm Prior of Bec. At this promotion several of the monks murmured on account of his youth; but, by patience and sweetness, he won the affections of them all, and by little condescensions at first, so worked upon an irregular young monk, called Osbern, as to perfect his conversion and make him one of the most fervent. He had indeed so great a knowledge of the hearts and passions of mete, that he seemed to read their interior in their actions; by which he discovered the sources of virtues and vices, and knew how to adapt to each proper advice and instructions; which were rendered most powerful by the mildness and charity with which he applied them. In regard to the management and tutoring of youth, he looked upon excessive severity as highly pernicious. Eadmer has recorded a conversation he had on this subject with a neighbouring abbot, who, by a conformity to our saint's practice and advice in this regard, experienced that success in his labours which he had till then aspired to in vain by harshness and severity.
St. Anselm applied himself diligently to the study of every part of theology, by the clear light of scripture and tradition. Whilst he was prior at Bec, he wrote his Monologium, so called because in this work he speaks alone, explaining the metaphysical proofs of the existence and nature of God. Also his Proslogium, or contemplation of God's attributes in which he addresses his discourse to God, or himself. The Meditations, commonly called the Manual of St. Austin, are chiefly extracted out of this book. It was censured by a neighboring monk, which occasioned the saint's Apology. These and other the like works, show the author to have excelled in metaphysics all the doctors of the church since St. Austin. He likewise wrote, whilst prior, On Truth, on Free-will, and On the Fall of the Devil, or, On the Origin of Evil; also his Grammarian, which is in reality a treatise on Dialectic, or the Art of Reasoning.
Anselm's reputation drew to Bec great numbers from all the neighbouring kingdoms. Herluin dying in 1078, he was chosen Abbot of Bec, being forty-five years old, of which he had been prior fifteen. The abbey of Bec being possessed at that time of some lands in England, this obliged the abbot to make his appearance there in person at certain times. This occasioned our saint's first journeys thither, which his tender regard for his old friend Lanfranc, at that time Archbishop of Canterbury, made the more agreeable. He was received with great honour and esteem by all ranks of people, both in church and state, and there was no one who did not think it a real misfortune if he had not been able to serve him in something or other. King William himself, whose title of Conqueror rendered him haughty and inaccessible to his subjects, was so affable to the good Abbot of Bec that he seemed to be another man in his presence. The saint, on his side, was all to all, by courtesy and charity, that he might find occasions of giving everyone some suitable instructions to promote their salvation; which were so much the more effectual as he communicated them, not as some do, with the dictatorial air of a master, but in a simple familiar manner, or by indirect though sensible examples. In the year 1092, Hugh, the great Earl of Chester, by three pressing messages, entreated Anselm to come again into England, to assist him, then dangerously sick, and to give his advice about the foundation of a monastery which that nobleman had undertaken at St. Wereburge's church at Chester. A report that he would be made archbishop of Canterbury, in the room of Lanfranc, deceased, made him stand off for some time; but he could not forsake his old friend in his distress, and at last came over. He found him recovered, but the affairs of his own abbey, and of that which the earl was erecting, detained him five months in England. The metropolitan see of Canterbury had been vacant ever since the death of Lanfranc in 1089. The sacrilegious and tyrannical king, William Rufus, who succeeded his father in 1087, by an injustice unknown till his time, usurped the revenues of vacant benefices, and deferred his permission, or < conge d'elire>, in order to the filling the episcopal sees, that he might the longer enjoy their income. Having thus seized into his hands the revenues of the archbishopric, he reduced the monks of Canterbury to a scanty allowance, oppressing them moreover by his officers with continual insults, threats, and vexations. He had been much solicited by the most virtuous among the nobility to supply the see of Canterbury, in particular, with a person proper for that station; but continued deaf to all their remonstrances and answered them, at Christmas 1093, that neither Anselm nor any other should have that bishopric whilst he lived; and this he swore to by the holy face of Lucca, meaning a great crucifix in the cathedral of that city held in singular veneration, his usual oath. He was seized soon after with a violent fit of sickness, which in a few days brought him to extremity. He was then at Gloucester, and seeing himself in this condition, signed a proclamation, which was published, to release all those that had been taken prisoners in the field, to discharge all debts owing to the crown, and to grant a general pardon; promising likewise to govern according to law and to punish the instruments of injustice with exemplary severity. He moreover nominated Anselm to the see of Canterbury, at which all were extremely satisfied but the good abbot himself, who made all the decent opposition imaginable; alleging his age, his want of health and vigour enough for so weighty a charge, his unfitness for the management of public and secular affairs, which he had always declined to the best of his power. The king was extremely concerned at his opposition, and asked him why he endeavoured to ruin him in the other world, being convinced that he should lose his soul in case he died before the archbishopric was filled. The king was seconded by the bishops and others present, who not only told him they were scandalized at his refusal, but added that, if he persisted in it, all the grievances of the church and nation would be placed to his account. Thereupon they forced a pastoral staff into his hands, in the king's presence, carried him into the church, and sung Te Deum on the occasion. This was on the 6th of March 1093. He still declined the charge till the king had promised him the restitution of all the lands that were in the possession of that see in Lanfranc's time. Anselm also insisted that he should acknowledge Urban II for lawful pope. Things being thus adjusted, Anselm was consecrated with great solemnity on the 4th of December 1093.
Anselm had not been long in possession of the see of Canterbury when the king, intending to wrest the duchy of Normandy out of the hands of his brother Robert, made large demands on his subjects for supplies. On this occasion, not content with the five hundred pounds (a very large sum in those days) offered him by the archbishop, the king insisted, at the instigation of some of his courtiers, on a thousand, for his nomination to the archbishopric, which Anselm constantly refused to pay; pressing him also to fill vacant abbeys and to consent that bishops should hold councils as formerly, and be allowed by canons to repress crimes and abuses, which were multiplied and passed into custom for want of such a remedy, especially incestuous marriages and other abominable debaucheries. The king was extremely provoked, and declared no one should extort from him his abbeys any more than his crown. And from that day he sought to deprive Anselm of his see. William, Bishop of Durham, and the other prelates, acquiesced readily in the king's orders, by which he forbade them to obey him as their primate, or treat him as archbishop, alleging for reason that he obeyed Pope Urban during the schism, whom the English nation had not acknowledged. The king, having brought over most of the bishops to his measures, applied to the temporal nobility, and bid them disclaim the archbishop; but they resolutely answered that since he was their archbishop and had a right to superintend the affairs of religion, it was not in their power to disengage themselves from his authority, especially as there was no crime or misdemeanour proved against him. King William then, by his ambassador, acknowledged Urban for true pope, and promised him a yearly pension from England if he would depose Anselm; but the legate whom his holiness sent told that king that it was what could not be done. St. Anselm wrote to the pope to thank him for the pall he had sent him by that legate, complaining of the affliction in which he lived under a burden too heavy for him to bear, and regretting the tranquillity of his solitude which he had lost. Finding the king always seeking occasions to oppress his church unless he fed him with its treasures, which he regarded as the patrimony of the poor (though he readily furnished his contingent in money and troops to his expeditions and to all public burdens), the holy prelate earnestly desired to leave England, that he might apply in person to the pope for his counsel and assistance. The king refused him twice: and on his applying to him a third time, he assured the saint that, if he left that kingdom, he would seize upon the whole revenue of the see of Canterbury, and that he should never more be acknowledged metropolitan. But the saint, being persuaded he could not in conscience abide any longer in the realm to be a witness of the oppression of the church, and not have it in his power to remedy it, set out from Canterbury in October 1097, in the habit of a pilgrim; took shipping at Dover and landed at Witsan, having with him two monks, Eadmer, who wrote his life, and Baldwin. He made some stay at Cluni with St. Hugh the abbot, and at Lyons with the good Archbishop Hugh. It not being safe travelling any further towards Rome at that time on account of the antipope's party lying in the way, and Anselm falling sick soon after, this made it necessary for him to stay longer at Lyons than he had designed. However, he left that city the March following, in 1098, on the pope's invitation, and was honourably received by him. His holiness having heard his cause, assured him of his protection, and wrote to the king of England for his re-establishment in his rights and possessions. Anselm also wrote to the king at the same time; and, after ten days' stay in the pope's palace, retired to the monastery of St. Saviour, in Calabria, the air of Rome not agreeing with his health. Here he finished his work, entitled Why God was made Man, in two books, showing, against infidels, the wisdom, justice, and expediency of the mystery of the incarnation for man's redemption. He had begun this work in England, where he also wrote his book, On the Faith of the Trinity and Incarnation, dedicated to Pope Urban II, in which he refuted Roscelin, the master, Peter Abailard, who maintained an erroneous opinion in regard to the Trinity. Anselm, charmed with the sweets of his retirement, and despairing of doing any good at Canterbury, hearing by new instances that the king was still governed by his passions, in open defiance to justice and religion, earnestly entreated the pope, whom he met at Aversa, to discharge him of his bishopric; believing he might be more serviceable to the world in a private station. The pope would by no means consent, but charged him upon his obedience not to quit his station: adding, that it was not the part of a man of piety and courage to be frightened from his post purely by the dint of browbeating and threats, that being all the harm he had hitherto received. Anselm replied, that he was not afraid of suffering, or even losing his life in the cause of God; but that he saw there was nothing to be done in a country where justice was so overruled as it was in England. However, Anselm submitted and in the mean time returned to his retirement, which was a cell called Slavia, situated on a mountain, depending on the monastery of St. Saviour. That he might live in the merit of obedience, he prevailed with the pope to appoint the monk Eadmer, his inseparable companion, to be his superior, nor did he do the least thing without his leave.
The pope having called a council, which was to meet at Bari, in October 1098, in order to effect a reconciliation of the Greeks with the Catholic Church, ordered the saint to be present at it. It consisted of one hundred and twenty-three bishops. The Greeks having proposed the question about the procession of the Holy Ghost, whether this was from the Father only, or from the Father and the Son; the disputation being protracted, the pope called aloud for Anselm, saying, "Anselm, our father and our master, where are you?" And causing him to sit next to him, told him that the present occasion required his learning and elocution to defend the church against her enemies, and that he thought God had brought him thither for that purpose. Anselm spoke to the point with so much learning, judgment, and penetration that he silenced the Greeks and gave such a general satisfaction that all present joined in pronouncing Anathema against those that should afterwards deny the procession of the Holy Ghost from both the Father and the Son. This affair being at an end, the proceedings of the King of England fell next under debate. And on this occasion his simony, his oppressions of the church, his persecution of Anselm, and his incorrigibleness, after frequent admonitions, were so strongly represented that the pope, at the instance of the council, was just going to pronounce him excommunicated. Anselm had hitherto sat silent, but at this he rose up, and casting himself on his knees before the pope, entreated him to stop the censure. And now the council, who had admired our saint for his parts and learning, were further charmed with him on account of his humane and Christian dispositions in behalf of one that had used him so roughly. The saint's petition in behalf of his sovereign was granted; and on the council breaking up, the pope and Anselm returned to Rome. The pope, however, sent to the king a threat of excommunication, to be issued in a council to be shortly after held at Rome, unless he made satisfaction: but the king, by his ambassador, obtained a long delay. Anselm stayed some time at Rome with the pope, who always placed him next in rank to himself. All persons, even the schismatics, loved and honored him; and he assisted with distinction at the council of Rome, held after Easter, in 1099. Immediately after the Roman council he returned to Lyons, where he was entertained by the archbishop Hugh, with all the cordiality and regard imaginable; but saw no hopes of recovering his see so long as king William lived. Here he wrote his book, On the Conception of the Virgin, and On Original Sin resolving many questions relating to that sin. The archbishop of Lyons gave him in all functions the precedence, and all thought themselves happy who could receive any sacrament from his hands. Upon the death of Urban II, he wrote an account of his case to his successor, Pascal II. King William Rufus being snatched away by sudden death, without the sacraments, on the 2nd of August 1100, St. Anselm, who was then in the abbey of Chaize-Dieu, in Auvergne, lamented bitterly his unhappy end and made haste to England, whither he was invited by King Henry I. He landed at Dover on the 23rd of September and was received with great joy and extraordinary respect. And having in a few days recovered the fatigue of his journey, went to wait on the king, who received him very graciously. But this harmony was of no long continuance. The new king required of Anselm to be reinvested by him, and do the customary homage of his predecessors for his see; but the saint absolutely refused to comply and made a report on the proceedings of the late synod at Rome, in which the laity that gave investitures for abbeys or cathedrals were excommunicated; and those that received such investures were put under the same censure. But this not satisfying the king, it was agreed between them to consult the pope upon the subject. The court in the meantime was very much alarmed at the preparations making by the king's elder brother, Robert, Duke of Normandy, who, being returned from the holy war in Palestine, claimed the crown of England and threatened to invade the land. The nobles, though they had sworn allegiance to Henry, were ready to join him; and on his landing with a formidable army at Portsmouth, several declared for the duke. The king being in great danger of losing his crown, was very liberal in promises to Anselm on this occasion; assuring him that he would henceforward leave the business of religion wholly to him, and be always governed by the advice and orders of the apostolic see. Anselm omitted nothing on his side to prevent a revolt from the king. Not content with sending his quota of armed men, he strongly represented to the disaffected nobles the heinousness of their crime of perjury; and that they ought rather lose their lives than break through their oaths and fail in their sworn allegiance to their prince. He also published an excommunication against Robert, as an invader, who thereupon came to an accommodation with Henry and left England. And thus, as Eadmer relates, the archbishop, strengthening the king's party, kept the crown upon his head. Amidst his troubles and public distractions, he retired often in the day to his devotions, and watched long in them in the night. At his meals, and at all times, he conversed interiorly in heaven. One day, as he was riding to his manor of Herse, a hare, pursued by the dogs, ran under his horse for refuge; at which the saint stopped and the hounds stood at bay. The hunters laughed, but the saint said, weeping, "This hare puts me in mind of a poor sinner just upon the point of departing this life, surrounded with devils waiting to carry away their prey." The hare going off, he forbade her to be pursued and was obeyed, not a hound stirring after her. In like manner every object served to raise his mind to God, with whom he always conversed in his heart, and, in the midst of noise and tumult, he enjoyed the tranquillity of holy contemplation—so strongly was his soul sequestered from, and raised above, the world.
King Henry, though so much indebted to Anselm, still persisted in his claim of the right of giving the investitures of benefices. Anselm, in 1102, held a national council in St. Peter's church at Westminster, in which, among other things, it was forbid to sell men like cattle, which had till then been practiced in England; and many canons relating to discipline were drawn up. He persisted to refuse to ordain bishops, named by the king, without a canonical election. The contest became every day more serious. At last the king and nobles persuaded Anselm to go in person and consult the pope about the matter: the king also sent a deputy to his holiness. The saint embarked on the 27th of April in 1103. Pope Pascal II condemned the king's pretensions to the investitures and excommunicated those who should receive church dignities from him. St. Anselm being advanced on his return to England as far as Lyons, received there an intimation of an order from King Henry, forbidding him to proceed on his journey home unless he would conform to his will. He therefore remained at Lyons, where he was much honoured by his old friend the Archbishop Hugh. From thence he retired to his abbey of Bec, where he received from the pope a commission to judge the cause of the Archbishop of Rouen, accused of several crimes. He was also allowed to receive into communion such as had accepted investitures from the crown, which, though still disallowed of, the bishops and abbots were so far dispensed with as to do homage for their temporalities. The king was so pleased with this condescension of the pope that he sent immediately to Bec to invite St. Anselm home in the most obliging manner, but a grievous sickness detained him. The king coming over into Normandy in 1106, articles of agreement were drawn up between him and the arch bishop at Bec, pursuant to the letter St. Anselm had received from Rome a few months before; and the pope very readily confirmed the agreement. In this expedition Henry defeated his brother Robert, and sent him prisoner into England, where he died. St. Anselm hereupon returned to England in 1106, and was received by the Queen Maud, who came to meet him, and by the whole kingdom of England, as it were in triumph.
The last years of his life, his health was entirely broken. Having for six months laboured under an hectic decay, with an entire loss of appetite, under which disorder he would be carried every day to assist at holy mass, he happily expired, laid on sackcloth and ashes, at Canterbury, on the 21st of April 1109, in the sixteenth year of his episcopal dignity, and of his age the seventy-sixth. He was buried in his cathedral. By a decree of Clement XI, in 1720 he is honoured among the doctors of the church. We have authentic accounts of many miracles wrought by this saint in the histories of Eadmer and others. St. Anselm had a most lively faith of all the mysteries and great truths of our holy religion; and by the purity of his heart, and an interior divine light, he discovered great secrets in the holy scriptures, and had a wonderful talent in explaining difficulties which occur in them. His hope for heavenly things gave him a wonderful contempt and disgust of the vanities of the world, and he could truly say with the apostle, he was crucified to the world, and all its desires. By an habitual mortification of his appetite in eating and drinking he seemed to have lost all relish in the nourishment which he took if is fortitude was such, that no human respects, or other considerations, could ever turn him out of the way of justice and truth; and his charity for his neighbor seemed confined by no bounds: his words, his writings, his whole life breathed forth this heavenly fire. He seemed to live, says his faithful disciple and historian, not for himself, but for others; or rather so much the more for himself by how much the more profitable his life was to his neighbors, and faithful to his God. The divine love and law were the continual subjects of his meditations day and night. He had a singular devotion to the passion of our Lord, and to his Virgin mother. Her image at Bec, before which, at her altar, he daily made long prayers while he lived in that monastery, is religiously kept in the new sumptuous church. His horror of the least sin is not to be expressed. In his Proslogium, meditations, and other ascetic works, the most heroic and inflamed sentiments of all these virtues, especially of compunction, fear of the divine judgments, and charity, are expressed in that language of the heart which is peculiar to the saints.


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