April 21st was the feast day of St. Anslem, a truly great thinker from our Church history and the Catholic News Agency notes the Holy Father’s message.
“Vatican City, Apr 21, 2009 / 02:49 pm (CNA).- Benedict XVI today sent a message for the 900 year anniversary of the death of St. Anselm, archbishop of Canterbury and doctor of the Church, whose feast day is celebrated today. In the letter, the Holy Father praised the saint’s wisdom and encouraged all people to draw close to him by studying his teachings on the Church.
"Recalling with a devoted heart the figure of this saint," writes the Pope in his Latin-language message addressed to Fr. Notker Wolf, abbot primate of the Benedictine Confederation, "we wish to exalt and illustrate the treasure of his wisdom so that the people of our time, especially Europeans, may draw close to him and receive his sound and abundant doctrine."
“St. Anselm was born in Aosta, Italy, in 1033 and entered the monastery at the age of 27. Three years later, he was made a prior.
“The saint is also known for his extensive writings in all areas of theology. They include: Monologium on the metaphysical proofs of the existence and nature of God; Proslogium, a contemplation of God's attributes; On Truth; On Freewill; On the Fall of the Devil (or On the Origin of Evil); On the Conception of the Virgin; On Original Sin; and a book on the art of reasoning called Grammarian.”
And here is an excerpt from the Proslogium:
“Truly there is a God, although the fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.
“AND so, Lord, do thou, who dost give understanding to faith, give me, so far as thou knowest it to be profitable, to understand that thou art as we believe; and that thou art that which we believe. And indeed, we believe that thou art a being than which nothing greater can be conceived. Or is there no such nature, since the fool hath said in his heart, there is no God? (Psalms xiv. 1). But, at any rate, this very fool, when he hears of this being of which I speak—a being than which nothing greater can be conceived—understands what he hears, and what he understands is in his understanding; although he does not understand it to exist.
“For, it is one thing for an object to be in the understanding, and another to understand that the object exists. When a painter first conceives of what he will afterwards perform, he has it in his understanding, but he does not yet understand it to be, because he has not yet performed it. But after he has made the painting, he both has it in his understanding, and he understands that it exists, because he has made it.
“Hence, even the fool is convinced that something exists in the understanding, at least, than which nothing greater can be conceived. For, when he hears of this, he understands it. And whatever is understood, exists in the understanding. And assuredly that, than which nothing greater can be conceived, cannot exist in the understanding alone. For, suppose it exists in the understanding alone: then it can be conceived to exist in reality; which is greater.
“Therefore, if that, than which nothing greater can be conceived, exists in the understanding alone, the very being, than which nothing greater can be conceived, is one, than which a greater can be conceived. But obviously this is impossible. Hence, there is no doubt that there exists a being, than which nothing greater can be conceived, and it exists both in the understanding and in reality.”