Saint Anselm – Father of Scholasticism, Doctor of the Church, Faithful Catholic in all things


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The Feast of St. Anselm – highly underappreciated Doctor of the Church

Anselm stands out as a link between Saint Augustine of Hippo and Saint Thomas Aquinas and is called the ‘Father of Scholasticism.’ He preferred to defend the faith by intellectual reason rather than scriptural arguments.

As the first to successfully incorporate the rationalism of Aristotlelian dialectics into theology, Anselm wrote on the existence of God in Monologium and Proslogium (deduces God’s existence from man’s notion of a perfect being, which influenced later great thinkers such as Duns Scotus, Descartes, and Hegel).

His “Cur Deus homo?” was the most prominent treatise on the Atonement and Incarnation ever written. Other writings include De fide Trinitatis, De conceptu de virginali, Liber apologeticus pro insipiente, De veritate, letters, prayers, and meditations.

Anselm also rediscovered the precious maternal influence, lost since childhood, with her whom Jesus has given us for a mother. She inspired his most beautiful prayers. She gave him the soul of a child. She guided him in his constant search for God. One might think of Anselm as an old, dried up theologian. But that would be an error. Anselm’s intellectual rigor was softened by the sensitivity of his mind and the generosity of his heart. He wrote, “I want to understand something of the truth which my heart believes and loves. I do not seek thus to understand in order to believe, but I believe in order that I may understand.”

Anselm was one of the most human of saints and balanced of monks. Perhaps his early wanderings helped to form him so. Even after nine centuries, the charm of his personality still radiates. He himself was aware of the attraction that he held over those around him. He recognized it without any evasiveness: “All the good people who have known me have loved me, and all the more so when they knew me at close hand.”