Tuesday, April 21, 2009

St. Anselm 900 Years Ago--Tuesday, Easter Week 2

Today's Vatican Information Service had the text (in Latin) of the Holy Father's letter to the Benedictine Abbot General on the 900th anniversary of St. Anselm's death (April 21, 1109). Monk, abbot, Archbishop of Cantebury, saint and doctor of the church, Anselm was an extraordinarily gifted individual.

I'm still working on translating the Holy Father's letter (my Latin is a bit rusty), but I was reminded of a young man, David Rogerson who couldn't get enough of Anselm's writings when they were reading him in the Foundation Year at King's College (Dalhousie U) in Halifax. David told me of his love for Cur Deus Homo (Why God Became Man), then asked if I had the Proslogion in my library, which I did though I hadn't looked at it in some time. He was thrilled to get my Penguin edition!

David delighted in Anselm's work and discussing it and those of other classical Christian authors. He relished discussing, not to say arguing with folks--even his archbishop in countless emails--as he loved so many aspects of life: his supportive family, the children he taught at the flegling Our Lady of Schools, becoming and being a Knight of Columbus, leading the youth group at his parish, evangelizing with Catholic Christian Outreach at Dal, etc. The passion of his life was the lovely Tanya, who became his bride. In God's mysterious designs, David's leukemia returned and he died barely a month after their wedding. That was the summer we laughed and cried without much of a gap in between! Now in faith we trust he knows the reality Anselm spoke of, "greater than which nothing can be imagined": the God and Father of Jesus Christ!

Before departing for Toronto on a noon flight, I was privileged to lead Morning Prayer for about 200 Catholic teachers and staff participating the EOCCC (Eastern Ontario Catholic Curriculum Cooperative)'s 14th annual conference. The four publicly-funded Catholic school boards in Eastern Ontario seek to improve numeracy and literacy, as the other public boards do, but they address as well other topics of interest to the ethos of Catholic schools: implementing the Ministry of Education's concern with Values, in their case by focussing on the Christian tradition of Virtues (theological and cardinal) and such topics as "Taize Prayer in the Classroom" and "Affirming Catholic Themes".

In the early afternoon, I attended at the Toronto School of Theology board room the PhD thesis defence by Colin Kerr of his study of St. Augustine's 399 AD work Adnotationes in Job ("Notes on Job"), which is contemporaneous with his Confessions. In the dissertation Colin sets about engaging (refuting?) scholarly treatments that suggest its doctrine is incompatible with Augustine's mature doctrine on grace, in light of subsequent teaching and the Pelagian controversy.

After the examiners closeted themselves in a review of their scholarly exchanges, Colin was congratulated on his work. This will delight not only family and friends, but his colleagues and students at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy (Barry's Bay, ON). Later, a Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated and a toast raised at Pedro Arrupe Jesuit Community (my former home).

Congratulations and best wishes for a happy academic career, Doctor Kerr!

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