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The 2004 movie produced by Mel Gibson, The Passion of the Christ, is one of the most popular and controversial films of our time. These questions will help in thinking through the movie, or in discussing it with others.

1. Do you know why Jesus had to die?
When learning from The Passion of the Christ the facts about Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion, it’s essential to understand the reason for it. One of the most important of the many reasons given in the Bible why Jesus had to die was to receive the wrath of God in the place of others. “For all have sinned,” God says in Romans 3:23. And because God is just and holy, He must punish those who have sinned. But because He is also loving, He was willing to send His Son—Jesus—to take the hammer blow of His wrath so that others might receive His mercy. When Jesus allowed Himself to be spiked onto that wooden cross, He was accepting God’s curse so that sinners could receive God’s blessings forever. As Galatians 3:13 puts it, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.’”

2. Do you know who really killed Jesus?
There is no single, earthly source to blame for killing Jesus. The Jewish religious leaders hated Jesus, so they arrested Him and delivered Him to the Roman official, Pontius Pilate, for execution. He could have released Jesus, but Pilate, too, shares responsibility because he succumbed to the influence of yet a third party who contributed to the death of Jesus, the crowd in Jerusalem who kept shouting, “Crucify Him!” (Matthew 27:23). In the end, however, it was sinners like me and you who killed Jesus. “While we were yet sinners,” the apostle Paul tells us, “Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). No one can point a finger at any other person or group for the death of Jesus. Our sins were the reason Jesus had to be crucified.

3. Do you understand the role that God the Father played in the death of Jesus?
Ultimately, it was God the Father who killed His Son, Jesus. The Bible clearly says that Jesus was “delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). Jesus did not die by mistake. Although our sins made Jesus’ death necessary, God brought it to pass. So in God’s sending Jesus to receive His wrath so others could receive eternal life, sinners are saved from God, by God.

4. Do you realize why Jesus’ death was different from the death of everyone else in history?
The death of Jesus was unique because His life was unique. Since Jesus never sinned, He never had to die; rather He chose to die. And because Jesus never broke the law of God, He could die as a substitute in the place of lawbreakers. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 explains, God the Father “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

5. Do you know why Jesus cried from the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46)?
When God in His justice laid the crushing guilt of sinners upon Jesus, God in His holiness then had to reject His own Son as though He were a sinner. As Jesus was suspended between earth and Heaven, the prophecy of Isaiah 53:10 was fulfilled: “But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief if He would render Himself as a guilt offering.”

6. Do you know why Jesus’ last words were, “It is finished” (John 19:30)?
Because of His love, God sent Jesus to be the propitiation—the wrath-taker—for the sins of people who did not yet love Him. “In this is love,” says 1 John 4:10, “not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Once He had taken our guilt and God’s punishment, Jesus triumphantly declared to His Father, “It is finished,” and died.

7. Do you see the relationship between Jesus’ death and His resurrection?
The resurrection of Jesus vindicates all His claims. Anyone could claim, as Jesus did, to be the only way to God (John 14:6). But Jesus substantiated this and all His other claims by doing something no one else has ever done—rising from the dead, never to die again. Moreover, by not leaving Jesus in the grave, God showed that He accepted His Son’s death as a substitute for the death of others. The Bible is plain that the cross of Jesus, without the resurrection, would have meant, “your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). “But now Christ has been raised from the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20), as proof that Jesus’ death in the place of sinners satisfied the requirements of God’s justice.

8. Do you realize what the death of Jesus can do for you that you cannot do for yourself?
First among many things His cross alone can do for you is this: the death of Jesus can make you righteous in the sight of God. No amount of good that we do can atone for our sins or earn us a place in Heaven. And if we die without receiving the benefits of Jesus’ death, the wrath of God will fall on us forever. Conversely, the Bible speaks of those who have experienced the benefits of the cross as those who have “been justified by His blood,” and declares that they “shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Romans 5:9). To be “justified” means more than having all sins forgiven. It also means to be given credit for living the perfect life Jesus lived. Only a perfect life earns entrance into a perfect world with a perfect God. And only through the death of Jesus can we get the perfect life of Jesus that we need to enter heaven.

9. Do you understand the central message of this movie?
Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, was crucified as a substitute for sinners, and rose from the dead to be King over everyone and everything forever.

10. Do you know the biblical response to the message of The Passion of the Christ?
It’s summarized in one of the best-known and best-loved verses in the Bible: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Many people will have deep, but merely temporary, emotional responses to The Passion of the Christ. Instead, may the Lord grant you to find in the greatest evil ever committed—the death of Jesus—the greatest, richest, and most satisfying blessing ever offered—God Himself.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘The Passion of the Christ’

10 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘The Passion of the Christ’

One of the best movies that we have watched about the life of Jesus was the Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson’s profound attempt to revisit the crucifixion.

“The Passion of the Christ” was released in 2004, and made a great impact on the Christian community, and the world, for those who went to see it. Even though this depiction was graphic (parental discretion advised), it still failed to capture the full reality of what Jesus endured during his final hours on earth, but it came as remarkable close as we would expect a movie to.

What we want to challenge you with is some of the facts and secrets behind filming this historical, and epic movie. We have always been fascinated by what happens behind the scenes of a movie, and this one was no exception

Jim Caviezel hurt himself carrying the cross. 

Jim Caviezel was seemingly the perfect candidate to play Jesus Christ. What you may not have known is that he experienced a shoulder separation when the 130-pound cross was dropped unto his shoulder. That scene is still in the movie.

That was a heavy cross. It was probably more than half the weight of a typical Jewish man. It took great inner strength for Jesus to carry such a weight after being severely scourged with a cat-o-nine whip, hit in the head with a reed, had a crown of thorn pressed into his head, and abandoned by all his friends.

Jim did it with a separated shoulder, though we are sure he did not traverse the full length of the journey but the pain in his face during that scene would have been real.

The highest grossing independent film is a “Jesus movie.”

This film had more pre-ticket sales than any other movie in history. It grossed $611,899,420 in worldwide ticket sales since its release. The second highest grossing independent film is ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, a novel adaptation.

Did you notice that? The highest grossing independent film in the world is a ‘Jesus movie.’ This movie did not just appeal the Christians, as we are sure a lot of Christians still did not go to see the movie, but the quality of this attempt had worldwide appeal.

There is hope for Christian films, and we have seen a remarkable improvement in the quality of films being released with a Christian theme, even though some are still being produced by the secular community, and not by those in the Kingdom of God.

Caviezel’s appearance was greatly changed for the role. 

Jim was given a prosthetic nose and a raised hairline during his makeup. His blue eyes were changed to brown in the film. We always thought Jesus had blue eyes. Now where did we get that crazy idea from? Better yet, what historical proof do we have that His eyes were indeed brown?

Mel wanted to transform the actor into as close an image of Jesus as they had in mind. We have seen many versions over the years, and this was one of the best. We have seen Jim in other movies, but we are just grateful that his impersonation of Jesus was very different from the villain he played in the Harry Potter series.

Lightning struck on-set multiple times.

Assistant Director Jan Michelini was hit twice by lightning during the filming of the movie. There is actually a rumour that Jim was also hit while hanging on the cross. We are not sure of the spiritual significance of such an occurrence, but there were no reports of anyone turning into the flash.

In the scriptures, lightning comes from God. For example, Psalm 135:7 says, “He causes the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; Who makes lightning for the rain, who brings forth the wind from His treasuries.” So, God sent forth lightning on the set of The Passion of the Christ. Was it a wake-up call, or a confirmation that He approved the film? Maybe it was a sign to those involved. Food for thought!

They originally opted to not use a musical score.

Mel Gibson originally opted not to use a musical score for the film. He eventually decided to use one and, guess what, it was nominated for ‘Best Musical Original Score’ for a motion picture at the 2005 Oscars.

We can’t imagine a movie without a musical score. That would feel like watching a behind the scene footage of a film. Do you notice how different the finished version of a movie looks to the behind the scene footage? If you take the music out of a film, you also take out the emotions. It is the music/sound that builds tension and causes people to jump in a horror film.

The element of music adds a surreal aura to the scenes. When Jesus actually lived through this experience, there was no dramatic sounds, no music score, no build up to that epic moment when He breath His last. Maybe it would have been nice to relive those moments, without that added component.

Jim accidentally got whipped twice.

During the scourging scene, Jim accidentally got whipped twice. The first literally knocked the wind out of him. The second time hurt so much that it caused him to wrench his hands from the shackles, scraping his hand pretty badly.

Ouch! Watch the film again, and see if you can tell when that whip actually found its target. The facial expression will be much different, even more amplified. It’s not a bad experience, considering that the scriptures say, if we suffer with Christ, we will also reign with Him. The only difference is, Jesus took all thirty-nine, and not just two.

Most of the cast and crew converted after the film.

Because of their experiences through production, many of the cast members and crew converted to Christianism (Catholicism) after the completion of the film. Among those converted was an Atheist who played Judas Iscariot. His name is Luca Lionello.

Being in a film and playing the worst character role in terms of flaws can eventually lead to finding salvation, how much of an impact could the film make on those who watch the finished movie? We believe quite a lot.

One scene was inspired by Michelangelo’s famous statue “La Pieta.”

According to Mel Gibson, the long shot of Jesus lying in Mary’s arms after being taken from the cross was greatly inspired by Michelangelo’s famous statue “La Pieta”. The Pieta is a work of Renaissance sculpture that is housed in St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City. It was the first of a number of projects of the same theme by Michelangelo.

This work of art also inspired many other depictions of this scene in other movies/documentaries. We imagine the life of Jesus had a greater impact on Mary, His earthly mother, than anyone else. As a matter of fact, Joseph was not mentioned in the Bible after they found 12-year-old Jesus in the temple baffling the minds of the Learnt men. But Mary continued, even after Jesus’ death and resurrection, all the way to His ascension.

The actress who played Mary was pregnant.

Maia Morgenstern, who played Mary, was pregnant during the shoot, but she did not tell anyone, until one day she approached Jim and said in broken English, and a thick Romanian accent, “I have baby in stomach.” Jim got the idea. It must have felt a little awkward playing Jesus at the end of His life, while the woman playing his mother was preparing to give birth to new life. Talk about miracles.

Gibson recalls many miracles that happened on-set.

Mel Gibson spoke endlessly about the number of miracles that happened to the cast and crew while shooting the film. Gibson recounted in an interview that there had been some unusual things happening on the set. Some of the miracles that took place were people being healed of diseases, sight and hearing restored, and the greatest of all, salvation. There was one little six-year-old girl, who was a daughter of a person connected with the crew, who had epilepsy since she was born. She has had up to 50 epileptic seizures a day. She was apparently near cured of her condition and did not have any fits and seizures for over a month after the film was released. It was also reported that she has been coping with her condition a lot easier.

Knowledge is good, so now you know. The Passion of the Christ is still the number one independent movie of all time, so you may want to see if you can get a copy, just in case you have not seen it yet. And even if you have, it’s a good movie to have in your collection as a reminder of what Jesus did to make redemption and salvation available to all humanity. All the weird, and remarkable occurrences that took place during production is just a confirmation that there is an unseen world watching, and our choices have a profound impact on that world, both for good and bad.

John 11:25, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”

An in-depth look at the Easter readings

An in-depth look at the Easter readings

First Reading – Acts 10:34a, 37-43
Responsorial Psalm – Ps. 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23
Second Reading – Col. 3:1-4 or 1 Cor. 5:6b-8
Gospel Reading – Jn. 20:1-9

“Christians, to the Paschal Victim offer your thankful praises! A Lamb the sheep redeems; Christ, who only is sinless, reconciles sinners to the Father. Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous: the Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal. Speak, Mary, declaring what you saw, wayfaring. ‘The tomb of Christ, who is living, the glory of Jesus’ resurrection; bright angels attesting, the shroud and napkin resting. Yes, Christ my hope is arisen; to Galilee he goes before you.’ Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining. Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning! Amen. Alleluia” (Easter sequence).

“If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain…your faith is futile and you are still in your sins…If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:14,17, 19).

“Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia! For he whom you were worthy to bear, alleluia! Has risen as he said, alleluia! Pray for us to God, alleluia! Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia! For the Lord is risen indeed, alleluia!” (The Regina Caeli).

The readings during Easter

We now enter into the glorious season of Easter, celebrating the resurrection of Christ from the dead. With this I must say a word about the structure of the readings during this season. The first thing that will be most obvious is that there is no reading from the Old Testament, other than the use of the Responsorial Psalm.

The “Introduction” to the Lectionary informs us, “The first reading is from the Acts of the Apostles, which throughout the Easter season replaces the Old Testament reading. The reading from the Apostle Paul concerns the living out of the paschal mystery in the Church” (99). Then of course there is the Gospel reading which will focus on the resurrected Lord during the forty days leading up to his glorious Ascension.

The empty tomb

In the reading from John’s Gospel for this Easter Sunday we are told that Mary Magdalene “came to the tomb early, while it was still dark…” (Jn. 20:1). We know from Luke’s Gospel that other women were with her: “Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women…” (24:10).

They love the Lord so much that they come to the tomb while it was still dark, probably in what the Romans considered the fourth watch of the night, which was anywhere between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. When they arrive Jesus is already risen, the tomb is empty. We almost get the impression that Jesus could not wait even for sunrise to come forth from the tomb. One can imagine Mary Magdalene recalling Jesus’ words, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (Jn. 8:12). The sun didn’t rise, but the Son did rise as he said he would.

The enormous stone was rolled away. So, Mary goes to Peter and the beloved disciple, John, and out of concern that someone has in fact stolen the body of Jesus, she says, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him” (Jn. 20:2).

Peter and John run to the tomb, but the younger John arrives first, but does not go in. This is more than a courteous action on John’s part. He in fact knows that Jesus himself gave Peter a special authority and place in the Kingdom of God (cf. Mt. 16:16-19).

“Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself” (Jn. 20:6-7)

As the Navarre Bible notes, “Some of the words contained in the account need further explanation, so terse is the translation…‘lying there’ seems to indicate that the clothes were flattened, deflated, as if they were emptied when the body of Jesus rose and disappeared – as if it had come out of the clothes and bandages without their being unrolled, passing right through them (just as later he entered the Cenacle [upper room] when the doors were shut)” (240). One might make the analogy that it was something like light passing through glass.

The Navarre Bible continues, “From these details concerning the empty tomb one deduces that Jesus’ body must have risen in a heavenly manner, that is, in a way which transcended the laws of nature. It was not only a matter of the body being reanimated as happened, for example, in the case of Lazarus, who had to be unbound before he could walk (cf. Jn. 11:44)” (240).

Also, by the details given in the narrative, the notion that Jesus’ body was stolen simply cannot be true. Why? Grave robbers did not steal bodies; they stole things in the tomb that were worth money, like the usually costly linen cloths. We know that Jesus’ linen cloths were expensive because he was buried by Joseph of Arimathea, who was a rich man (cf. Mt. 27:57a). Also, even if someone were to steal a body they surely would not have left the cloths behind. It is surely much easier to carry a dead body with cloths on than without. We also have the fact noted in Matthew’s Gospel that guards were posted at the tomb, and we know that they did not fall asleep on the job (cf. 27:62-67; 28:11-15). 

Of course proof of the resurrection cannot be exclusively shown through the fact that there was an empty tomb. However, we must note that the empty tomb and the garments did suffice for the beloved disciple who “saw and believed” (Jn. 20:8).

But the various resurrection narratives will not leave it there. They will go on to recount Jesus’ different appearances. In the reading from Acts for this Sunday Peter says, “God raised him on the third day and made him manifest; not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses…” (10:40-41).

We will encounter some of these during the next six Sundays of the Easter season.

However, in the meantime, for those of us who have been baptized, let us remember the words of St. Paul in the second reading for this Sunday: “If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:1-4).

Saint of the Day for Sunday, April 21st, 2019

Saint of the Day for Sunday, April 21st, 2019

St. Anselm

Image of St. Anselm


Feast day: April 21
Birth: 1033
Death: 1109

St. Anselm Archbishop of Canterbury and Confessor APRIL 21,A.D. 1109 IF the Norman conquerors stripped the English nation of its liberty, and many temporal advantages, it must be owned that by their valor they raised the reputation of its arms, and deprived their own country of its greatest men, both in church and state, with whom they adorned this kingdom: of which this great doctor, and his master, Lanfranc, are instances. 

St. Anselm was born of noble parents, at Aoust, in Piedmont, about the year 1033. His pious mother took care to give him an early tincture of piety, and the impressions her instructions made upon him were as lasting as his life. At the age of fifteen, desirous of serving God in the monastic state, he petitioned an abbot to admit him into his house: but was refused out of apprehension of his father’s displeasure.

Neglecting, during the course of his studies, to cultivate the divine seed in his heart, he lost this inclination, and, his mother being dead, he fell into tepidity; and, without being sensible of the fatal tendency of vanity and pleasure, began to walk in the broad way of the world: so dangerous a thing is it to neglect the inspirations of grace! The saint, in his genuine meditations, expresses the deepest sentiments of compunction for these disorders, which his perfect spirit of penance exceedingly exaggerated to him, and which, like another David, he never ceased most bitterly to bewail to the end of his days.

The ill usage he met with from his father, induced him, after his mother’s death, to leave his own country, where he had made a successful beginning in his studies; and, after a diligent application to them for three years in Burgundy, (then a distinct government,) and in France, invited by the great fame of Lanfranc, prior of Bec, in Normandy, under the abbot Herluin, he went thither and became his scholar.*

On his father’s death, Anselm advised with him about the state of life he was to embrace; as whether he should live upon his estate to employ its produce in alms, or should renounce it at once and embrace a monastic and eremitical life. Lanfranc, feeling an overbearing affection for the promising a disciple, dared not advise him in his vocation, fearing the bias of his own inclination; but he sent him to Maurillus, the holy archbishop of Rouen.

By him Anselm, after he had laid open to him his interior, was determined to enter the monastic state at Bec, and accordingly became a member of that house, at the age of twenty-seven, in 1060, under the abbot Herluin. Three years after, Lanfranc was made abbot of St. Stephen’s, at Caen, and Anselm prior of Bec. At this promotion several of the monks murmured on account of his youth; but, by patience and sweetness, he won the affections of them all, and by little condescension at first so worked upon an irregular young monk, called Osbern, as to perfect his conversion, and make him one of the most fervent.

He had indeed so great a knowledge of the hearts and passions of men, that he seemed to read their interior in their actions; by which he discovered the sources of virtues and vices, and knew how to adapt to each proper advice and instructions; which were rendered most powerful by the mildness and charity with which he applied them. And in regard to the management and tutoring of youth, he looked upon excessive severity as highly pernicious. Eadmer has recorded a conversation he had on this subject with a neighboring abbot,  who, by a conformity to our saint’s practice and advice in this regard, experienced that success in his labors which he had till then aspired to in vain, by harshness and severity.    

St. Anselm applied himself diligently to the study of every part of theology, by the clear light of scripture and tradition. While he was prior at Bec, he wrote his Monologium, so called, because in this work he speaks alone, explaining the metaphysical proofs of the existence and nature of God. Also his Proslogium, or contemplation of God’s attributes, in which he addresses his discourse to God, or himself. The Meditations, commonly called the Manual of St. Austin, are chiefly extracted out of this book. It was censured by a neighboring monk, which occasioned the saint’s Apology.

These and other the like works, show the author to have excelled in metaphysics over all the doctors of the church since St. Austin. He likewise wrote, while prior, On Truth, On Freewill, and On the Fall of the Devil. or, On the Origin of Evil: also his Grammarian, which is, in reality, a treatise on Dialectics, or the art of reasoning.     Anselm’s reputation drew to Bec great numbers from all the neighboring kingdoms. Herluin dying in 1078, he was chosen abbot of Bec being forty five years old, of which he had been prior fifteen.

The abbey of Bec being possessed at that time of some lands in England, this obliged the abbot to make his appearance there in person, at certain times. This occasioned our saint’s first journeys thither, which his tender regard for his old friend Lanfranc, at that timearchbishop of Canterbury, made the more agreeable. He was received with great honor and esteem by all ranks of people, both in church and state; and there was no one who did not think it a real misfortune, if he had not been able to serve him in something or other.

King William himself, whose title of Conqueror rendered him haughty and inaccessible to his subjects, was so affable to the goodabbot of Bec, that he seemed to be another man in his presence. The saint, on his side, was all to all, by courtesy and charity, that he might find occasions of giving every one some suitable instructions to promote their salvation; which were so much the more effectual, as he communicated them, not as some do with the dictatorial air of a master, but in a simple familiar manner, or by indirect, though sensible examples.

In the year 1092, Hugh, the great earl of Chester, by three pressing messages, entreated Anselm to come again into England, to assist him, then dangerously sick and to give his advice about the foundation of a monastery which that nobleman had undertaken at St. Wereburge’s church at Chester. A report that he would be made archbishop of Canterbury, in the room of Lanfranc, deceased, made him stand off for some time; but he could not forsake his old friend in his distress, and at last came over.

He found him recovered, but the affairs of his own abbey, and of that which the earl was erecting, detained him five months in England. The metropolitan see of Canterbury had been vacant ever since the death of Lanfranc, in 1089. ! . The sacrilegious and tyrannical king, William Rufus, who succeeded his father in 1087, by an injustice unknown till his time, usurped the revenues of vacant benefices, and deferred his permission, or Conge d’elire, in order to the filling the episcopal sees, that he might the longer enjoy their income.

Having thus seized into his hands the revenues of the archbishopric, he reduced the monks of Canterbury to a scanty allowance: oppressing them moreover by his officers with continual insults, threats, and vexations. He had been much solicited, by the most virtuous among the nobility, to supply the see of Canterbury, in particular, with a person proper for that station; but continued deaf to all their remonstrances, and answered them at Christmas, 1093, that neither Anselm nor any other should have the bishopric while he lived; and this he swore to by the holy face of Lucca meaning a great crucifix in the cathedral of that city, held in singular veneration, his usual oath.

He was seized soon after with a violent fit of sickness, which in a few days brought him to extremity. He was then at Gloucaster, and seeing himself in this condition, signed a proclamation, which was published, to release all those that had been taken prisoners in the field, to discharge all debts owing to the crown, and to grant a general pardon promising likewise to govern according to law, and to punish the instruments of injustice with exemplary severity.

He moreover nominated Anselm to the see of Canterbury, at which all were extremely satisfied but the good abbot himself, who made all the decent opposition imaginable; alleging his age, his want of health and vigor enough for so weighty a charge, his unfitness for the management of public and secular affairs, which he had always declined to the best of his power. The king was extremely concerned at his opposition, and asked him why he endeavored to ruin him in the other world, being convinced that he should lose his soul in case he died before the archbishopric was filled.

The king was seconded by the bishops and others present, who not only told him they were scandalized at his refusal, but added, that, if he persisted in it, all the grievances of the church and nation would be placed to his account. Thereupon they forced a pastoral staff into his hands, in the king’s presence, carried him into the church, and sung Te Deum on the occasion. This was on the 6th of March, 1093 He still declined the charge, till the king had promised him the restitution of all the lands that were in the possession of that see in Lanfranc’s time.

Anselm also insisted that he should acknowledge Urban II for lawful pope. Things being thus adjusted, Anselm was consecrated with great solemnity on the 4th of December, 1093.     Anselm had not been long in possession of the see of Canterbury, when the king, intending to wrest the duchy of Normandy out of the hands of his brother Robert, made large demands on his subjects for supplies.

On this occasion, not content with the five hundred pounds (a very large sum in those days) offered him by the archbishop, the king insisted, at the instigation of some of his courtiers, on a thousand, for his nomination to the archbishopric, which Anselm constantly refused to pay: pressing him also to fill vacant abbeys, and to consent that the bishops should hold councils as formerly, and be allowed by canons to repress crimes and abuses, which were multiplied, and passed into custom, for want of such a remedy, especially incestuous marriages and other abominable debaucheries.

The king was extremely provoked, and declared no one should extort from him his abbeys any more than his crown. * And from that day he sought to deprive Anselm of his see. William, bishop of Durham, and the other prelates, acquiesced readily in the king’s orders, by which he forbade them to obey him as their primate, or treat him as archbishop, alleging for reason that he obeyed pope Urban, during the schism, whom the English nation had not acknowledged.

The king, having brought over most of the bishops to his measures, applied to the temporal nobility, and bid them disclaim the archbishop: but they resolutely answered, that since he was their archbishop, and had a right to superintend the affairs of religion, it was not in their power to disengage themselves from his authority, especially as there was no crime or misdemeanor proved against him. King William then, by his ambassador, acknowledged Urban for true pope, and promised him a yearly pension from England, if he would depose Anselm; but the legate, whom his holiness sent, told the king that it was what could not be done. 

St. Anselm wrote to the pope to thank him for the pall he had sent him by that legate, complaining of the affliction in which he lived under a burden too heavy for him to bear, and regretting the tranquillity of his solitude which he had lost.. Finding the king always seeking occasions to oppress his church, unless he fed him with its treasures, which he regarded as the patrimony of the poor, (though he readily furnished his contingent in money and troops to his expeditions and to all public burdens,) the holy prelate earnestly desired to leave England, that he might apply, in person, to the pope for his counsel and assistance.

The king refused him twice: and, on his applying to him a third time, he assured the saint that, if he left that kingdom, he would seize upon the whole revenue of the see of Canterbury, and that he should never more be acknowledged metropolitan. But the saint, being persuaded he could not in conscience abide any longer in the realm, to be a witness of the oppression of the church, and not have it in his power to remedy it, set out from Canterbury, in October, 1097, in the habit of a pilgrim; took shipping at Dover, and landed at Witsan having with him two monks, Eadmer, who wrote his life, and Baldwin.

He made some stay at Cluni with St. Hugh, the abbot, and at Lyons with the good archbishop Hugh. It not being safe traveling any further towards Rome at that time, on account of the anti-pope’s party lying in the way; and Anselm falling sick soon after, this made it necessary for him to stay longer at Lyons than he had designed. However, he left that city the March following, in 1098, on the pope’s invitation, and was honorably received by him. His holiness, having heard his cause, assured him of his protection, and wrote to the king of England for his reestablishment in his rights and possessions.

Anselm also wrote to the king at the same time; and, after ten days stay in the pope’s palace, retired to the monastery of St. Savior in Calabria, the air of Rome not agreeing with his health. Here he finished his work entitled, Why God was made Man; in two books, showing, against infidels, the wisdom, justice, and expediency of the mystery of the incarnation for man’s redemption. He had begun this work in England, where he also wrote his book On the Faith of the Trinity and Incarnation, dedicated to pope Urban II., in which he refuted Roscelin, the master, Peter Abailard, who maintained an erroneous opinion in regard to the Trinity.

Anselm, charmed with the sweets of his retirement, and despairing of doing any good at Canterbury, hearing by new instances that the king was still governed by his passions, in open defiance to justice and religion, earnestly entreated the pope, whom he met at Aversa, to discharge him of his bishopric; believing he might be more serviceable to the world in a private station.

The pope would by no means consent, but charged him upon his obedience not to quit his station: adding, that it was not the part of a man of piety and courage to be frightened from his post purely by the dint of browbeating and threats, that being all the harm he had hitherto received. Anselm replied, that he was not afraid of suffering, or even losing his life in the cause of God; but that he saw there was nothing to be done in a country where justice was so overruled as it was in England.

However, Anselm submitted, and in the meantime returned to his retirement, which was a cell called Slavia, situated on a mountain, depending on the monastery of St. Savior. That he might live in the merit of obedience, he prevailed with the pope to appoint the monk Eadmer, his inseparable companion, to be his superior, nor did he do the least thing without his leave.    

The pope having called a council, which was to meet at Bari, in October, 1098, in order to effect a reconciliation of the Greeks with the Catholic church, ordered the saint to be present at it. It consisted of one hundred and twenty-three bishops. The Greeks having proposed the question about the procession of the Holy Ghost, whether this was from the Father only, or from the Father and the Son; the disputation being protracted, the pope called aloud for Anselm, saying, “Anselm, our father and our master, where are you?” And causing him to sit next to him, told him that the present occasion required his learning and elocution to defend the church against her enemies, and that he thought God had brought him thither for that purpose.

Anselm spoke to the point with so much learning, judgment, and penetration, that he silenced the Greeks, and gave such a general satisfaction, that all present joined in pronouncing anathema against those that should afterwards deny the procession of the Holy Ghost from both the Father and the Son. This affair being at an end, the proceedings of the king of England fell next under debate. And on this occasion his simony, his oppressions of the church, his persecution of Anselm, and his incorrigibleness, after frequent admonitions, were so strongly represented, that the pope, at the instance of the council, was just going to pronounce him excommunicated.

Anselm had hitherto sat silent, but at this he rose up, and casting himself on his knees before the pope, entreated him to stop the censure. And now the council, who had admired our saint for his parts and learning, were further charmed with him on account of his humane and Christian disposition, in behalf of one that had used him so roughly. The saint’s petition in behalf of his sovereign was granted; and, on the council breaking up, the pope and Anselm returned to Rome.

The pope, however, sent to the king a threat of excommunication, to be issued in a council to be shortly after held at Rome, unless he made satisfaction: but the king, by his ambassador, obtained a long delay. Anselm stayed some time at Rome with the pope, who always placed him next in rank to himself. All persons, even the schismatics, loved and honored him, and he assisted with distinction at the council of Rome, held after Easter, in 1099.

Immediately after the Roman council he returned to Lyons, where he was entertained by the archbishop Hugh with all the cordiality and regard imaginable; but saw no hopes of recovering his see so long as king William lived. Here he wrote his book, On the Conception of the Virgin, and On Original Sin, resolving many questions relating to that sin. The archbishop of Lyons gave him in all functions the precedence, and all thought themselves happy who could receive any sacrament from his hands. Upon the death of Urban II., he wrote an account of his case to his successor, Pascal II. King William Rufus being snatched away by sudden death, without the sacraments, on the 2nd of August, 1100, St. Anselm, who was then in the abbey of Chaize-Dieu, in Auvergne, lamented bitterly his unhappy end, and made haste to England, whither he was invited by king Henry I He landed at Dover on the 23rd of September, and was received with great joy and extraordinary respect.

And having in a few days recovered the fatigue of his journey, he went to wait on the king, who received him very graciously. But this harmony was of no long continuance. The new king required of Anselm to be reinvested by him, and do the customary homage of his predecessors for his see; but the saint absolutely refused to comply, and made a report of the proceedings of the late synod at Rome, in which the laity that gave investitures for abbeys or cathedrals were excommunicated; and those that received such investitures were put under the same censure. But this not satisfying the king, it was agreed between them to consult the pope upon the subject.

The court in the mean time was very much alarmed at the preparations making by the king’s elder brother, Robert, duke of Normandy; who, being returned from the holy war in Palestine, claimed the crown of England, and threatened to invade the land. The nobles, though they had sworn allegiance to Henry, were ready enough to join him; and, on his landing with a formidable army at Portsmouth, several declared for the duke. The king being in great danger of losing his crown, was very liberal in promises to Anselm on this occasion, assuring him that he would henceforward leave the business of religion wholly to him, and be always governed by the advice and orders of the apostolic see.

Anselm omitted nothing on his side to prevent a revolt from the king. Not content with sending his quota of armed men, be strongly represented to the disaffected nobles the heinousness of their crime of perjury, and that they ought rather lose their lives than break through their oaths, and fail in their sworn allegiance to their prince. He also an excommunication against Robert, as an invader, who thereupon came to an accommodation with Henry, and left England. And thus, as Eadmer relates, the archbishop, strengthening the king’s party, kept the crown upon his head. Amidst his troubles and public distractions, he retired often in the day to his devotions, and watched long in them in the night.

At his meals, and at all times, he conversed interiorly in heaven. One day as he was riding to his manor of Herse, a hare, pursued by the dogs, ran under his horse for refuge: at which the saint stopped, and the hounds stood at bay. The hunters laughed, but the saint said, weeping, “This hare puts me in mind of a poor sinner just upon the point of departing this life, surrounded with devils, waiting to carry away their prey.” The hare going off, he forbade her to be pursued, and was obeyed, not a hound stirring after her. In like manner, every object served to raise his mind to God, with whom he always conversed in his heart, and, in the midst of noise and tumult, he enjoyed the tranquillity of holy contemplation; so strongly was his soul sequestered from, and raised above the world