Bishop, Confessor and Doctor
Ven. Abbot Dom Guéranger, O.S.B.
A Monk, a Bishop, a Doctor of the Church, — such was the Saint, whose Feast comes gladdening us on this twenty-first day of April. He was a Martyr, also, at least in desire, and we may add, in merit too, — for he did enough to earn the glorious palm. When we think of Anselm, we picture to ourselves a man, in whom are combined the humility and meekness of the Cloister with the zeal and courage of the Episcopal dignity; a man who was both a sage and a saint; a man whom it was impossible not to love and respect. He left his native country of Piedmont for the Monastery of Bec in France, where he became a Benedictine Monk. Being elected Superior, he realized in himself the type of an Abbot, as drawn by Saint Benedict in his Rule: He that is made Abbot, says the holy Patriarch, should study to give help rather than to give commands. We read, that the love entertained for Anselm by his Brethren was beyond description. His whole time was devoted to them, either in giving them spiritual direction, or in communicating to them his own sublime knowledge of the sacred sciences. After governing them for several years, he was taken from them, and compelled to accept the dignity of Archbishop of Canterbury. He was a worthy successor of Augustine, Dunstan, Elphege, and Lanfranc; and by his own noble example of courage, he prepared the way for the glorious Martyr Thomas, who succeeded him in less than a century.
As Bishop, his whole life was spent in fighting for the Liberty of the Church. Though gentle as a lamb by nature, he was all energy for this great cause. He used to say: Christ would not have his Spouse be a slave; there is nothing in this world that God loves more than the Liberty of his Church. There was a time when the Son of God allowed himself to be fettered with bonds, in order that he might loosen us from the chains of our sins; but now that he has risen in triumph from the dead, he wills that his Spouse should be, like himself, free. She cannot otherwise exercise the ministry of salvation confided to her by her Divine Lord; and yet there is scarcely a single hundred years of her existence, in which she has not had to fight for this holy Liberty. The rulers of this earth, with a very few exceptions, have ever been jealous of her influence, and have sought to lessen it by every possible means. In our own times, there are numbers of her children, who do not even know that she has any rights or privileges; they would be at a loss to understand you, if you told them that she is the Spouse of Christ, and therefore a Queen; they think it quite enough for her, if she enjoy the same amount of Freedom and Toleration as the Sects she condemns; and they cannot see how, under such conditions as these, the Church is not the Kingdom he wished her to be, but a mere slave.
St. Anselm would have abominated all such theories as these; so does every true Catholic. He is not driven into disloyalty to the Church by the high-sounding words, — Progress, and Modern Society; he knows that there is nothing on earth equal to the Church; and when he sees the world convulsed by Revolutions, he knows that all comes from the Church having been deprived of her rights. One of these is, that she should not only be recognized, in the secret of our conscience, as the one only true Church, but that, as such, she should be publicly confessed and outwardly defended against every opposition or error.
Jesus, her Divine Founder, promised to give her all nations as her inheritance; he kept his promise, and she was once the Queen and Mother of them all. But, now-a-days, a new principle, has been asserted, to the effect that the Church and all Sects must be on an equal footing as far as the protection of the State goes. The principle has been received with acclamation, and hailed as a mighty Progress achieved by modern enlightenment: even Catholics, whose previous services to Religion had endeared them to our hearts and gained our confidence, have become warm defenders of the impious theory.
Trying as were the times when St. Anselm governed the See of Canterbury, they were spared the humiliation of producing and ratifying such doctrine as this. The tyrannical interference of the Norman Kings was an evil far less injurious than the modern system, which is subversive of the very idea of a Church. Open persecution would be a boon, compared to the fashionable error of which we are speaking. A winter torrent brings desolation in its track: but in the summer, when the flood is over, nature brings back her verdure and flowers.
The errors which now prevail are like a great sea that gradually sweeps over the whole earth: and when the Church can find no spot whereon to rest, she will take her flight to heaven, and men must expect the speedy Coming of the judge.
Anselm was not only the zealous and heroic defender of the rights and privileges of the Church; he was also a light to men by his learning. The contemplation of revealed truths was his delight. He studied them in their bearings one upon the other; and his writings occupy a distinguished place in the treatises of Catholic Theology. God had blessed him with extraordinary talent. Amidst all the troubles and anxieties and occupations of his various duties, he found time for study. Even when passing from place to place, as an exile, he was intent on the meditation of the Mysteries of Religion, thus preparing those sublime reflections which he has left us on the Articles of our Faith.
Bishop, Confessor and Doctor
Missa ‘In medio’
Ecclesiasticus 15: 5
In medio Ecclesiæ aperuit os ejus: et implevit eum Dominus Spiritu sapientiæ, et intellectus: stolam gloriæ induit eum. Ps. 91: 2. Bonum est confiteri Domino: et psallere nomini tuo, Altissime. Gloria Patri.
In the midst of the Church the Lord opened his mouth: and filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding: He clothed him with a robe of glory. Ps. It is good to give praise to the Lord: and to sing to Thy Name, O Most High. Glory be to the Father.
O God, who didst give blessed Anselm to Thy people as a minister of eternal salvation; grant, we beseech Thee, that we, who have had him for our teacher on earth, may deserve to have him for our advocate in heaven. Through our Lord.
II Timothy 4: 1-8
Dearly beloved, I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, Who shall judge the living and the dead, by His coming and His kingdom: preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and will indeed turn away from the truth, but will be turned into fables. But be thou vigilant, labor in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. Be sober. For I am even now ready to be sacrificed and the time of my dissolution is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the just Judge, will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love His coming.
Ecclus 45:9; Osee 14:6
Alleluia, alleluia. And he girded him about with a glorious girdle, and clothed him with a robe of glory. Alleluia.
The just man shall spring as the lily: and shall flourish for ever before the Lord.
Matthew 5: 13-19
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and be trodden on by men. You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, Who is in heaven. Do not think that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and so shall teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Psalm 91: 13
The just shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow up like the cedar of Libanus. Alleluia.
May the holy prayer of Anselm, Thy Bishop and Doctor, fail us not, O Lord: may it render our offerings acceptable, and ever obtain for us Thy pardon. Through our Lord.
It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation that at all times, but more especially at this season, we should extol Thy glory, O Lord, when Christ our Pasch was sacrificed. For He is the true Lamb that hath taken away the sins of the world: Who by dying hath overcome our death, and by rising again hath restored our life. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dominations, and with all the heavenly hosts, we sing a hymn to Thy glory, saying without ceasing:
Luke 12: 42
The faithful and wise servant, whom his lord setteth over his family: to give them their measure of wheat in due season. Alleluia.
We beseech Thee, O Lord, that blessed Anselm, Thy Bishop and illustrious Doctor may join his prayers to ours that this sacrifice may bring us salvation. Through our Lord.