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St Anselm & friends

St Anselm & friends

St Anselm, whom we remember today, wrote several philosophical and theological works, exquisite prayers and meditations and in excess of 475 letters.  He’s one of those saints whose life you read and wonder, ‘however did he find the time?’  In 1093, the poor chap was plucked from his monastery in Bec in Normandy to become Archbishop of Canterbury and therefore spent the rest of his life caught up in quarrels between church and state.

Although he attended to his duties as Archbishop with holy diligence, his biographer Eadmer writes that the administration ‘was something which he could not patiently abide, and he used every pretext to withdraw himself from it so far as he could[1]

Indeed, when Anselm was ‘harassed by secular business’, he found ‘relief from these trials, finding his chief consolation in burying himself in the cloister with the monks and talking to them of things pertaining to their rule of life… his chief consolation was in such companionship.’[2]

It is delightful to think that this intelligent and talented Saint, who was marked out from an early stage for ‘a higher charge’ found such comfort in friendship and was not afraid to spend a considerable amount of his time and energy nurturing those spiritual friendships.  For Anselm, the time spent in conversation or correspondence with brother monks was not ‘wasted’ time, but a valuable part of his life’s apostolate .

In all humility, he trusted that as his friendships deepened, so too would the relationships between those friends and their common love: God.  We all know that it is easy to take friendships for granted but perhaps St Anselm’s example teaches us that even within the busy-ness of our everyday lives, we should not be afraid to carve out significant time to build up friendships modelled on Love.

St Anselm of Bec, pray for us!

[1] Vita Anselmi 1:xiii

[2] Vita Anselmi 2:viii

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