Friday, April 30, 2010

Archbishop John Meyrs' Statement Censuring Course on Same-Sex "Marriage"r

Today, April 30, Most Rev. John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark, issued a statement of censure regarding a proposed course on same-sex marriage at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ.

The proposed course at Seton Hall would begin in Fall 2010 and be taught by associate professor W. King Mott, an open homosexual who was demoted in 2005 after complaining about the Catholic Church’s stance against homosexuality, LifeSiteNews

The following is the statement issued by Archbishop John J. Myers:

"As the shepherd of the Archdiocese of Newark, I am responsible for maintaining the Catholic identity of all Church institutions and organizations within the Archdiocese, and for ensuring authentic and orthodox Catholic teaching in all educational institutions and parishes. That responsibility extends to our Catholic elementary and high schools, to our parish religious education programs for both adults and children, and to the Catholic colleges and university operating within my jurisdiction.

"Recent news that a course on same-sex marriage is proposed for the fall schedule at Seton Hall University troubles me greatly.

"The Church teaches – and has continued to teach for two millennia – that marriage is a union of man and woman, reflecting the complementarity of the sexes. That teaching precedes any societal connotation of marriage, and is based on natural law.

"This proposed course seeks to promote as legitimate a train of thought that is contrary to what the Church teaches. As a result, the course is not in synch with Catholic teaching.

"Consequently, the Board of Trustees of Seton Hall have asked the Board of Regents to investigate the matter of this proposed course, and to take whatever action is required under the law to protect the Catholicity of this university.

"When he met with Catholic educators two years ago during his visit to the United States, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, spoke of the need for authenticity and adherence to Catholic identity. “Teachers and administrators,” he said, “whether in universities or schools, have the duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice. This requires that public witness to the way of Christ, as found in the Gospel and upheld by the Church's Magisterium, shapes all aspects of an institution's life, both inside and outside the classroom.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Joseph: As the Virgin, Engenders the Physical Christ by Faith

It’s interesting to begin reading a pre-Vatican II treatise on St. Joseph in the light of John Paul II’s “Guardian of the Redeemer” that was written and given to the Church in 1989. The pre-Vatican II work is “Joseph Most Just” (1956) by Francis L. Filas, S.J., S.T.D. In the Introduction he says “This fatherhood of the Saint by no means implies that Joseph had generated Jesus. It represents an analogical use of the word. It refers to the spiritual bond which ideally should unite every natural father and son, a bond which normally is based on the generation of the son by the father. In the case of St. Joseph, since generation was absent, his bond to Jesus is something miraculous”[1] He goes on to say: “He [Jesus] becomes the miraculous fruit of the marriage, and on this score St. Joseph is called Jesus’ father in the moral order, by right of marriage. Such a fatherhood is concerned not with the physical act of generation but with the reception of Jesus and with His rearing. He goes on say: “Joseph has been called ‘’virgin father of Jesus’ – a title indicating he is father of Christ in so far as he, a virginal man, can be the father of Jesus. This echoes the interpretation of many Christian centuries that Joseph was father of Jesus in all respects with the sole exception of physical generation.” Filas then rightly asserts that Joseph’s marriage and fatherhood are the key ideas and “all later discussions and all future claims for Joseph’s holiness and privileges grow out of them.”[2]

Vatican II’s “Dei Verbum” developed this notion of faith from a mere intellectual assent to conceptual truths to an action of the whole person. Dei Verbum #5 reads: “To God who reveals himself we must bring the obedience of faith by which man entrusts himself entirely, freely, to God, bringing to him who reveals the complete submission of his intelligence and heart and giving with all his will full assent to the Revelation which he has made.” John Paul II goes on: “In the act of faith, man does not respond to God with the gift of a bit of himself, but with the gift of his whole person.”[3] Further on he continues: “To believe is to entrust this human I, in all its transcendence and all its transcendent greatness, but also with its limits, its fragility and its mortal condition, to Someone who announces himself as the beginning and the end, transcending all that is created and contingent… The surrender to God through faith (through the obedience of faith) penetrates to the very depths of human existence, to the very heart of personal existence…. It is much more than a purely intellectual theism and goes deeper and further than the act of ‘accepting as true what God has revealed.’”

As obedience of the whole person, faith is Joseph’s action of taking our Lady as spouse, pregnant as she was, and, on divine command, taking her and the Child to Egypt and returning to Nazareth. This is faith on the anthropological level of Abraham who became the father of Isaac by the prototypical act of faith that also involved marital intercourse with Sarah.

In this sense, “the faith of Mary meets the faith of Joseph… he ‘did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took his wife.’ What he did is the clearest ‘obedience of faith(Rom 1, 5; 16, 26; 2 Cor 10, 5-6)" [John Paul II, "Redemptoris Custos" (1989) Chapter II, The Guardian of the Mystery of God #4-6].

“One can say that what Joseph did united him in an altogether special way to the faith of Mary. He accepted as truth coming from God the very thing that she had already accepted at the Annunciation.” And it was precisely her faith – acceptance of God’s revelation with her whole self – that was the “cause” of the fecundation by the Holy Spirit. The faith of Mary produced a physical effect, nor merely a moral one. It was causative, not miraculous. In a word, faith as the act of imaging God, engenders Christ. One becomes “another Christ” by the sincere gift of oneself, which is the act of Christian faith. The faith of Mary was the cause – her fiat – of her engendering Christ in her flesh and from her flesh. Joseph’s faith was the same act engendering the same physical reality of Christ in her.

Therefore, to speak of the Incarnate God as “the miraculous fruit of the marriage” of the virginal Joseph with our Lady and that his fatherhood has nothing to do “with the physical act of generation but with the reception of Jesus and with His rearing,”[4] is to miss the meaning of the meaning of faith, and the place of St. Joseph as true father of Jesus in the order of faith

[1] Francis L. Filas, S.J., S.T.D “Joseph Most Just” by Francis L. Filas, S.J., S.T.D, Bruce Publishing Co. (1956) 17.

[2] Ibid

[3] Andre Frossard and John Paul II “Be Not Afraid,” St. Martin’s Press (1984) 64.

[4] “Joseph Most Just” op. cit.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Not Otiose to Repeat the Obvious

The powers driving the media continue to do the Church a great service. They are demanding that we be saints with an integral purity, and with a sincerity engendering authenticity that comes only with the humility of humiliation.

However, it is never a waste of time and effort to point out what is staring us in the face.

Today’s NYT Tuesday April 27, 2010 A 4 and A 10 does a fine grained historical analysis of the homosexuality (not pedophilia) of Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer of Vienna [“Some of his young victims, whose estimated number ranges from half a dozen to 30, later recounted how he would ask them to come to his room for confession…”]. There are no details spared in a story filling 5 almost full page columns from two pages of the newspaper. The content is horror and shock combined with outrage at any discretionary shadowing of facts by negligent Church authorities. There was some ameliorating Benedict XVI when the Times quoted the present Cardinal of Vienna and past student of Ratzinger Cardinal Schönborn: “It became clear very quickly that the current that prevailed in Rome was not the one demanding clarity here. Cardinal Ratzinger told me that the other side, the diplomatic side [represented by Cardinal Sodano and Archbishop Dziwisz], had prevailed. Cardinal Schönborn said he could not explain why Cardinal Ratzinger had so much influence with the pope on other matters, but lacked the clout to have Cardinal Groer investigated for abuse. ‘I am not responsible to explain everything,’ he said. ‘I just know that that is how it was.’” The article explained that - according to Schoenborn - "Cardinal Ratzinger told him behind closed doors that he wanted to set up a fact-finding commission to establish clarity. 'That for me is one of the best indications that I know from personal experience that today's pope had a very decisive, clear way of handling abuse cases.'"

At the same time, the powers driving the media have a homosexual/ gay culture as their agenda. The equality of the sexes, sequential partners, separation of “non-meaningful” sexual relationships, condom-use, etc. is de rigueur as the default philosophy undergirding the entire semantic output of the media be it word or image. And it is this they are attacking in the Catholic Church. This oxymoronic state is staring us in the face on every page and every viewing. The danger consists in the state of numbness that enters because of the consistency of the barrage. After a while, you don’t notice the noise of the persistent water fall. They win because of your loss of reason. Observe the contradiction!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Vision of The Church - Joseph Ratzinger in 1969-1970

“From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge – a Church that has lost much. It will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. It will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices it built in its palmy days. As the number of its adherents diminishes so will it lose many of its social privileges. In contrast to any earlier age, it will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society it will make much bigger demands on the initiative of its individual members. Undoubtedly it will discover new forms of ministry, and will ordain to the priesthood approved Christians who pursue some profession. In many smaller congregations or in self-contained social groups pastoral care will normally be provided in this fashion. Alongside this the full-time ministry of the priesthood will be indispensable as formerly. But in all of the changes at which one might guess the Church will find its essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at its center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world. In faith and prayer it will again recognized its tgrue center, and experience the sacraments again as the worship of God and not as a subject for liturgical scholarship.

“The Church will be a more spiritualized Church, not presuming upon a political mandate, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost it much valuable energy. It will make it poor and cause it to become the Church of the meek. The process will be all the more arduous, for sectarian narrow-mindedness as well as pompous self-will will have to be shed. One may predict that all of this will take time. The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism of the eve of the French Revolution – when a bishop might be thought smart if he mad fun of dogmas, and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain – to the renewal of the nineteenth century. But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakable lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, and answer for which they have always been searching in secret.

“And so it seems to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already – with Gobel – but the Church of faith. It may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that it was until recently; but it will enjoy a fresh blossoming, and be seen as man’s home where he will find life and hope beyond death.”[1]

[1] J. Ratzinger, “Faith and the Future, “ Franciscan Herald Press, (1971) 103-106.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

BXVI: "Digital Witnesses: Faces and Languages in the Cross-Media Age"

Papal Address on the Media and the Internet

"Without Fear We Want to Set Out Upon the Digital Sea"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 25, 2010 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday in an audience in Paul VI Hall with participants in a national conference
* * *

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Friends,

I am happy for this opportunity to meet with you and to conclude your gathering, which has had as its quite evocative theme, "Digital Witnesses: Faces and Languages in the Cross-Media Age." I thank the president of the Italian bishops' conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, for the cordial words of welcome with which, once again, he desired to express the affection and the nearness of the Church in Italy to my apostolic service. In his words the cardinal reflects the faithful adhesion to Peter of all the Catholics of this beloved nation and the esteem of so many men and women animated by the desire to seek the truth.

The time in which we live is experiencing an enormous expansion of the frontiers of communication, realizing an untold convergence between different media and making interaction possible. Thus the Internet manifests an open vocation, with an egalitarian and pluralistic tendency, but at the same time it has dug a moat about itself: One speaks, in fact, of the "digital divide." It separates the included from the excluded and adds to the other discrepancies that separate nations from each other and divide them internally. The dangers of homogenization and control, of intellectual and moral relativism, already quite evident in the bent of the critical spirit, in truth reduced to the play of opinions, in the multiple forms of the degradation and humiliation of the human person in his intimate dimension. One witnesses, then, a "polluting of the spirit, which makes us smile less, makes our faces gloomier, less likely to greet each other or look each other in the eye..." ("Speech in the Piazza di Spagna, December 8, 2009"). But this meeting points to recognizing faces and so to overcoming those collective dynamics that can make us lose the perception of the depth of persons and remain at the surface: When that happens, they are bodies without souls, objects of trade and consumption.

How is it possible today to return to faces? I tried to show the road in my third encyclical. It passes through that "caritas in veritate" that shines upon the face of Christ. Love in truth constitutes a "great challenge for the Church in a world that is becoming progressively and pervasively globalized" ("Caritas in Veritate," no. 9). The media can become a factor in humanization "not only when, thanks to technological development, they increase the possibilities of communicating information, but above all when they are geared towards a vision of the person and the common good that reflects truly universal values" (no. 73). This demands that they "focus on promoting the dignity of persons and peoples, they need to be clearly inspired by charity and placed at the service of truth, of the good, and of natural and supernatural fraternity" (ibid.). Only under those conditions can the epochal journey that we are undertaking become something rich and fertile with new opportunities. Without fear we want to set out upon the digital sea embracing the unrestricted navigation with the same passion that for 2,000 years has steered the barque of the Church. More than with technical resources, although necessary, we want to qualify ourselves dwelling in this universe too with a believing heart, that contributes to giving a soul to the uninterrupted communicational flow of the Internet.

This is our mission, the Church's mission that she cannot renounce: The task of every believer who works in the media is that of "opening the door to new forms of encounter, maintaining the quality of human interaction, and showing concern for individuals and their genuine spiritual needs. They can thus help the men and women of our digital age to sense the Lord's presence" ("Message for the 44th World Communications Day, May 10, 2010"). Dear Friends, you are called to take on the role of "animators of the community" on the Internet too, attentive to "prepare the ways that lead to the Word of God," and to express a particular sensitivity to "the disheartened and those who have a deep, unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute" (ibid.). The Internet could in this way become a kind of "Court of the Gentiles," where "there is also a space for those who have not yet come to know God" (ibid.).

As animators of culture and communication, you are a living sign of how much "Church communities have always used the modern media for fostering communication, engagement with society, and, increasingly, for encouraging dialogue at a wider level" (ibid.). In this field voices are not lacking in Italy: We need only to point to "Avvenire," TV2000, the inBlu radio network and the SIR press agency, along with Catholic periodicals, the network of weekly diocesan papers and the now numerous Catholic Web sites. I exhort all media professionals not to tire of nourishing in their heart that passion for man that draws ever closer to the languages he speaks and to his true face. You will be helped in this by a solid theological formation and above all a deep and joyful passion for God, fed by a constant dialogue with the Lord. The particular Churches and religious institutes, for their part should not hesitate to value the formation courses offered by the Pontifical universities, by the University of the Sacred Heart and the other Catholic and ecclesiastical universities, providing persons with foresight and resources. The media world should be a part of pastoral planning.

As I thank you for the service you give to the Church and therefore to the cause of man, I exhort you to walk the roads of the digital continent, animated by the courage of the Holy Spirit. Our confidence is not uncritically placed in any instrument of technology. Our strength lies in being Church, believing community, able to bear witness to all the perennial newness of the Risen One, with a life that blooms in fullness in the measure that it opens up, enters into relation, gives itself gratuitously.

I entrust you to the protection of Mary Most Holy and the great saints of communication and bless you from my heart.

New Global Order: Not Without the Church as "Immaculata"

The new global order cannot be built on an ideology such as Communism or Capitalism. It must be built on the truth of the human person which Vatican II formulated as “finding self by the sincere gift of self” (Gaudium et Spes #24).

But the engendering of the human person whose prototype is Jesus Christ must be done by the Church who is a person and “incubator” of that Prototype of the human person. As long as the Church is impure, Christ cannot be engendered.

Since the Church is a person – the Virgin – she must go through the purification of being immaculate as our Lady. As our Lady was conceived immaculately without original sin that is a turning into self and self-reliance and sufficiency, so also the Church. She must be open to being accused of fraud and lowering self in penance.

Remember: “…(T)he Church is not an apparatus, nor a social institution, nor one social institution among many others. It is a person. It is a woman. It is a Mother. It is alive. A Marian understanding of the Church is totally opposed to the concept of the Church as a bureaucracy or a simple organization. We cannot make the Church, we must be the Church. We are the Church, the Church is in us only to the extent that our faith more than action forges our being. Only by being Marian, can we become the Church. At its very beginning the Church was not made, but given birth. She existed in the soul of Mary from the moment she uttered her fiat. This is the most profound will of the Council: the Church should be awakened in our souls. Mary shows us the way” (J. Ratzinger, "The Ecclesiology of Vatican II," Conclusion).

As Benedict has suggested: the Church has been like David being dressed in the armor of Saul to fight Goliath. Once dressed thus, he was unable to walk. He had to dispossess himself of all the encumbrance of structural armor, take loin-cloth and sling shot which are the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation acted out within the Sacrifice of the Mass, and fight. This is all the Church needs.

Since the Church is the person of our Lady, the Church must go through her process of purification that will render her “Immaculate,” and therefore capable of being open and making the gift of self in her “fiat” such that she will be able to engender the Person of Jesus Christ in the world. The “Demonic” is doing the Church and humanity the service of a “work of God” by demanding that the Church be holy and worthy of who she is, and, failing that, be purified and stripped of possessions by law suites.

The Church is being brought down so that she can have and exercise the super-eminent power of the supernatural. As Benedict XVI says, it is a crisis of faith, not governance.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Apropos a Talk Given on St. Thomas, April 24, 2101


Benedict XVI: Without Faith, Reason Cannot Be Reason - and this because the light of reason is the being of the believing person. Remove the believing person who is the being in which reason sees everything else, and reason loses the absolute and becomes categorical and positivist.

HOUSTON, Texas, APRIL 24, 2010 ( Here is a compilation of excerpts from a Jan. 28 public lecture given by Archbishop Michael Miller of Vancouver, British Columbia, at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. The lecture was published April 14 by L'Osservatore Romano.

“In dealing with the harmony between faith and reason developed so exquisitely by Aquinas, the Holy Father [Benedict XVI] leaves no doubt about the Christological center of this vision. For Thomas, he writes, "the definitive fulfillment of every authentic human aspiration rests in Jesus Christ". But it was the genius of Aquinas to have highlighted the autonomy of philosophy, and with it the laws proper to reason. He gave a new emphasis to the specific responsibility of reason, which was not to be absorbed by faith. According to Thomas, Christianity was obliged to argue the case for its own reasonableness.

“Drawing, then, on St Thomas, Pope Benedict is convinced that it is urgent for contemporary thinkers "to rediscover anew human rationality open to the light of the divine Logos and his perfect revelation which is Jesus Christ, Son of God made man". Nor does he exhort only scholars. In countless homilies and discourses he cites St Peter's injunction to every Christian: "Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you" (1 Pet 3: 15). It is the Christian faith which safeguards reason in the modern world. Indeed, faith liberates reason from its own limitations. God has revealed himself as creative Reason and, precisely as the Logos, has acted and continues to act lovingly on our behalf. "In the beginning was the Word", the Logos, and "the Word became flesh" (Jn 1: 1, 14). The divine Logos is thus the origin of the universe, and this same Logos was united once and for all with humanity, the world and history, in Christ. Moreover, this Reason is not a mathematics of the universe nor a first cause that withdrew after producing the Big Bang. Rather, it has "a heart such as to be able to renounce its own immensity and take flesh".

The Holy Father addresses directly the consequence for higher education of holding to such an understanding of reason. In his first major address to academics he affirmed: "This then is the great challenge to Catholic universities: to impart knowledge in the perspective of true rationality, different from that of today which largely prevails, in accordance with a reason open to the question of the truth and to the great values inscribed in being itself, hence, open to the transcendent, to God".

Because God is Reason, our faith has something that has to do with reason; it can be passed on through it and has no cause to hide from it. Whenever faith in God separates itself from its rational foundation, such a faith is put at risk.

Without the light of faith, however, human reason cannot find sure and fulfilling answers to today's many urgent problems. Catholic universities, if they are to remain true to the intellectual tradition which has shaped them from their beginning, are called to bear witness not only to the dignity of human reason and its capacity for knowing reality but also to the role played by faith in learning. Our universities are broader, not narrower, in their outlook, since the study of divine revelation opens up a whole area of reality beyond the reach of reason left to its own natural resources. As Fr Victor Brezik once reminded us, "the combination of the world of revealed knowledge with the world of rational knowledge gives the Catholic university a much more challenging horizon of study".

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Doctor Kills the 'Wrong Baby'

Father of Daughter with Down Syndrome Speaks Out Against 'Deformed' Culture

by Danielle Bean Tuesday, April 20, 2010 7:00 AM Comments (6)

Kurt Kondrich is a loving father speaking out in defense of his daughter’s life—in a way no father should ever have to.

When the father of 6-year-old Chloe (who has Down syndrome) read a recent news story about a “doctor”’ whose medical license was revoked for aborting the “wrong twin” of one of his patients, he was incensed.

The “right twin”’ to kill, you see, would have been the one with Down syndrome. This was more than sweet Chloe’s dad could stomach:

“The doctor was ‘targeting a fetus with Down syndrome’, and he admitted he ‘screwed up’. Based on the facts presented in this article one can conclude that if the doctor had properly targeted the unborn child with Down syndrome and successfully terminated this twin then he would have kept his medical license,” Kondrich wrote at LifeSiteNews after reading the story.

“Currently 90%+ of children diagnosed prenatally with Down syndrome are ‘excluded’ from ever shining their bright light in a lost world that has become obsessed with perfection and unrealistic traits. If the proper practice of medicine in our culture includes the skill of identifying and eliminating a prenatal twin who fails to meet the criteria of “normal”, then we truly do need a massive overhaul of the ‘health care’ system, and it is the soul of our nation that is ‘deformed’.”

As a mother of a child with a genetic illness myself, I know the pain of having a child who is viewed as prenatally “disposable” by the majority of the medical profession. I join Mr. Kondrich in his outrage at a society that dares to say that his daughter should not exist.

I’m glad that people like Mr. Kondrich are not remaining silent in the face of this kind of injustice.

It’s a scandal to realize that we live in a culture where doctors are disciplined only when they accidentally kill the “wrong baby.” As long as they keep killing the genetically imperfect ones, we are content to call what they do “medicine” or “progress.”

What price are we willing to pay, both personally and as a nation, in order to eliminate “imperfect” children?

I pray that more parents like Mr. Kondrich will be inspired to speak out against injustice against their disabled children. These “disabilities” many people are in a hurry to rid the world of have faces. I can’t help but think that if we continue to show the world a more and more of those shining, smiling faces, if we continue to demand that society see our children first and their disabilities second—we can change some parents’ and doctors’ hearts before it’s too late.

Benedict on St. Anselm - 2009

The key to Anselm's thought is his insight that the Being and therefore knowledge of God is of another order than the created order. Consequently, since the human person is the unique creation made in the image and likeness of God in the created order, the experience of the self as act of self transcendence - which is the activation of the order of God Himself as supreme Self-Transcendence - gives one a knowledge of God within the created order. This is the meaning of Anselm's teaching that the knowledge of God is greater than anything that can be thought conceptually. The point epistemologically - according to Anselm - is that God is known experientially in consciousness by the act of self-transcendence. What is an act of self-transcendence? Work done for God and others as service; prayer; always love, etc. Sokolowski clarifies this in Anselm by adding: having created the world, God is not more; having not created the world, He would not be less.

Benedict XVI:

St. Anselm: Theologian, Teacher, Pastor

A Life Marked By "Love of Truth and the Constant Thirst for God"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 23, 2009 (

Dear brothers and sisters,

In Rome, on the Aventine Hill, is found the Benedictine abbey of St. Anselm. As the seat of an Institute of Higher Studies and of the abbot primate of the Confederated Benedictines, it is a place that unites prayer, study and government, precisely the three activities that characterized the life of the saint to which it is dedicated: Anselm of Aosta, the 900th anniversary of whose death we celebrate this year.

The many initiatives, promoted especially by the Diocese of Aosta for this happy anniversary, have reflected the interest that this Medieval thinker continues to awaken. He is also known as Anselm of Bec and Anselm of Canterbury because of the cities with which he was connected. Who is this personage to which three localities, distant from one another and situated in three different nations -- Italy, France and England -- feel particularly bound? Monk of intense spiritual life, excellent educator of youth, theologian with an extraordinary speculative capacity, wise man of government and intransigent defender of the "libertas Ecclesiae," of the liberty of the Church, Anselm is one of the eminent personalities of the Medieval Age, who was able to harmonize all these qualities thanks to a profound mystical experience that always guided his thought and action.

St. Anselm was born in 1033 (or the beginning of 1034) in Aosta, the firstborn of a noble family. His father was a crude man, dedicated to the pleasures of life and a spendthrift of his goods; his mother, on the other hand, was a woman of superior customs and profound religiosity (cf. Eadmero, Vita s. Anselmi, PL 159, col 49). It was his mother who took care of the first human and religious formation of her son, whom she later entrusted to the Benedictines of a priory of Aosta. Anselm, who from his childhood -- as his biographer recounts -- imagined the dwelling of the good God to be among the high and snow clad summits of the Alps, dreamed one night that he was invited to this splendid palace by God himself, who entertained him affably for a good while and at the end offered him to eat "a very white bread" (ibid., col 51).

This dream left him the conviction of being called to fulfill a high mission. At the age of 15, he asked to be admitted to the Benedictine Order, but his father opposed him with all his authority and did not even give in when his son, gravely ill, and sensing he was close to death, implored the religious habit as his last consolation. After his cure and the premature passing of his mother, Anselm went through a period of moral dissipation: He neglected his studies, overwhelmed by earthly passions; he was deaf to God's call. He returned home and began to travel in France, seeking new experiences.

After three years, arriving in Normandy, he went to the Benedictine abbey of Bec, attracted by the fame of Lanfranc of Pavia, prior of the monastery. It was, for him, a providential and decisive encounter for the rest of his life. Under the guidance of Lanfranc, Anselm took up his studies vigorously and in a short time became not only the favorite student, but also his teacher's confidant. His monastic vocation rekindled and, after careful evaluation, he entered the monastic order at the age of 27 and was ordained a priest. Ascesis and study opened new horizons for him, making him find again, at a higher level, that familiarity with God that he had had as a child.

When Lanfranc became abbot of Caen in 1063, Anselm, with just three years of monastic life, was appointed prior of the monastery of Bec and master of the cloister school, revealing gifts of a refine educator. He did not like authoritarian methods; he compared young men to small plants that develop better if they are enclosed in a greenhouse, and he gave them a "healthy" freedom. He was very exacting with himself and with others in the monastic observance, but instead of imposing discipline he was determined to have it followed with persuasion. On the death of Abbot Erluino, founder of the abbey of Bec, Anselm was unanimously elected to succeed him; it was February of 1079. Meanwhile, many monks had been called to Canterbury to take to their brothers on the other side of the English Channel the renewal that was underway on the continent. His work was well received, to the point that Lanfranc of Pavia, abbot of Caen, became the new archbishop of Canterbury and asked Anselm to spend some time with him to instruct the monks and help him in the difficult situation in which his ecclesial community found itself after the Norman invasion. Anselm's stay was very fruitful. He won sympathy and esteem to such a point that at Lanfranc's death he was elected to replace him in the archbishopric of Canterbury. He received his solemn episcopal consecration in December of 1093.

Anselm got involved immediately in an energetic struggle for the liberty of the Church, upholding with courage the independence of the spiritual power in respect of the temporal. He defended the Church from undue interference by political authorities, especially Kings William the Red and Henry I, finding courage and support in the Roman Pontiff, to whom Anselm always demonstrated a courageous and cordial adherence. In 1103 this fidelity cost him the bitterness of exile from his Canterbury see. And only in 1106, when King Henry I gave up the pretension of conferring ecclesiastical investitures, as well as the accumulation of taxes and the confiscation of the Church's properties, was Anselm able to return to England, where he was festively welcomed by the clergy and the people. Thus ended happily the long struggle that he had conducted with the weapons of perseverance, pride and goodness.

This holy archbishop who inspired so much admiration from those around him, wherever he went, dedicated the last years of his life above all to the moral formation of the clergy and the spiritual pursuit of theological arguments. He died on April 21, 1109, supported by the words of the Gospel proclaimed in the Holy Mass that day: "You are those who have continued with me in my trials; as my Father appointed a kingdom for me, so do I appoint for you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom ..." (Luke 22:28-30). The dream of that mysterious banquet, which he had as a child, precisely at the beginning of his spiritual journey, thus found its realization. Jesus, who had invited him to sit at his table, received St. Anselm, at his death, in the eternal kingdom of the Father.

"God, I implore you, I want to know you, to love you and to be able to enjoy you. And if in this life I am not capable of it fully, that at least I might progress each day until I attain its fullness" (Proslogion, chapter 14). This prayer enables us to understand the mystical soul of this great saint of the Medieval Age, founder of Scholastic Theology, to whom Christian tradition has given the title of "magnificent doctor," because he cultivated an intense desire to deepen his understanding of divine mysteries, fully aware, however, that the journey in search of God is never ended, at least on this earth. The clarity and logical rigor of his thought always had as their objective "to raise the mind to the contemplation of God" (Ivi, Proemium). He states clearly that whoever attempts to theologize cannot just count on his intelligence, but must cultivate at the same time a profound experience of faith. According to St. Anselm, the activity of a theologian, therefore, develops in three stages: faith, free gift of God that must be received with humility; experience, which consists in the incarnation of the word of God in one's daily life; and lastly true knowledge, which is never the fruit of aseptic thoughts, but of a contemplative intuition. Hence, his famous words continue to be very useful also today for a healthy theological research and for anyone who wishes to go deeper in the truths of the faith: "I do not presume, Lord, to penetrate in your profundity, because I cannot even from afar confront my intellect with it; but I wish to understand, at least to a certain point, your truth, which my heart believes and loves. I do not seek to understand to believe, but I believe in order to understand" (Ivi, 1).

Dear brothers and sisters, may the love of truth and the constant thirst for God, which marked the whole life of St. Anselm, be a stimulus for every Christian to seek without ever tiring an ever more profound union with Christ, Way, Truth and Life. In addition, may the courageous zeal that distinguished his pastoral action, and procured for him misunderstandings, bitterness and finally exile, be an encouragement for pastors, for consecrated persons and for all the faithful to love the Church of Christ, to pray, work and suffer for her, without every abandoning or betraying her. May the Virgin Mother of God, for whom Anselm nourished a tender filial devotion, obtain this grace for us. "Mary, my heart wants to love you," wrote St. Anselm, "my tongue wants to praise you ardently."