Saints' Prayers

selected from the annals of history unto our current day


Meditations by St. Anselm of Canterbury

from the book, 'Meditations and Prayers'

First Meditation


A review of our Lord's Incarnation by means of which the we have recovered all these losses.

And that thou mayest be set free from them, think of the compassions of thy Redeemer towards thee. Of a truth thou wast blinded by the guilt of original sin, and couldest not scan thy Creator's royal heights. Sins like a fog enveloped thee; thou wast drifting to the realms of darkness, and, swept on by the whirling current of thy faults, thou wast hurrying to the eternal glooms; when lo, thy Redeemer applied the eye-salve of His Incarnation to thy blinded orbs, so that, albeit thou couldest not discern God shining in the secret chamber of His Majesty, thou mightest at any rate behold Him made manifest in man; and beholding, own; and owning, love; and loving, strive with all thy might to arrive at last at His glory. He was Incarnate to recall thee to a spiritual state; He became partaker of thy changeful lot to make thee sharer of His immutability; He stooped to thy, lowliness that He might raise thee to His heights.

He was born of virginal integrity in order to heal the corruption of our wayward nature; circumcised, to teach man the duty of cutting away all excesses, whether of sin or of frailty; and offered in the temple and fondled by a holy widow, to teach His faithful to frequent the house of God, and aim by the pursuit of sanctity to merit to receive Him to themselves. He was embraced by the aged Simeon, who sang His praise, that so He might display to us His love of sober life and ripened character; and baptized, that thus He might sanctify for us the Sacrament of Baptism. And when in the Jordan, stooping to baptism at the hand of John, He heard the Voice of the Father, and received the Holy Spirit's advent under the figure of a dove, it was to teach us how to stand in unvarying humility of soul -- as is intimated by the Jordan, which is by interpretation their going down -- and so be favoured with converse with our heavenly Father, of Whom it is said, that 'His communication is with the simple' (Prov. iii. 32), and exalted by the presence of the Holy Ghost, Who takes His rest with the humble; at the hand of John withal, a name signifying the grace of God, that, whatever we receive from God, we ascribe all to His grace, not our merits. And when He had completed His fast of forty days, and was gloriously tended by ministrant angels. He taught us how, by turning away from the enticements of transitory things, all through the course of the present life to trample the world and the prince of the world under our feet, and so be guarded by troops of angels. By day He converses with the people, preaching the Kingdom of God to them, and edifies the surging crowds by His miracles and His doctrine; by night He frequents the mountain, and spends the time in prayer: hinting to us how, at one time, as opportunity offers, to point the way of life, according to our measure, by word and by example to our neighbours among whom we live; how at another, to betake ourselves to thoughtful solitude, and climb the hill of virtues, and yearn after the sweetnesses of high contemplation, and with unweariable desire direct our soul's bent to the things that are above. 'Tis on the mountain that He is transfigured before Peter and James and John; thus hinting to us that if like Peter (which is interpreted acknowledging) we humbly acknowledge our infirmity, if we endeavour to be made supplanters of vices (for James, or Jacobus, means supplanter) and strive faithfully to yield ourselves to the grace of God (for this is signified by the name of John), we shall climb all happily that heavenly mountain, and behold the glory of Jesus; Jesus our King Himself being our Guide. 'Twas in Bethany that He woke Lazarus out of sleep (Bethany is interpreted the house of obedience); showing thus that all who by the eflfort of a right will die to this world and rest in the bosom of obedience, shall be wakened up by Him to everlasting life. Intrusting His Body and Blood to His disciples in the mystic supper, He humbly washed their feet; teaching us that the dread ministries of the altar must be celebrated with purity of deed and pious humihty of mind. And then, or ever He was exalted in the glory of His holy resurrection, He endured the jests and the rough speeches of perfidious men, the shame of the Cross, the bitterness of gall, and at last death; in all this admonishing His own, that they who desire to attain after death to glory should not only endure with even mind the toils and distresses of the present life, and the oppressions of the wicked, but should love all hardnesses that this world can give, for, the sake of guerdons through eternity; should love them, court them, and thankfully embrace them.

These, therefore, so glorious and countless benefits of thy Creator, if thou endeavour to ponder them worthily, to embrace them devoutly, and to imitate them with a fervent love, not only shalt thou recover the good things lost to thee through thy first parent, but by the unspeakable grace of thy Saviour thou shalt have far higher goods for thy possession through eternity. For thine own very God being made thy Brother by the mystery of the Incarnation, what unspeakable joy has He not insured thee against the day when thou shalt see thy nature exalted in His Person over all creation!

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