God’s eternal power and character cannot be seen. But from the beginning of creation, God has shown what these are like by all he has made” (Rom. 1:20). Many miss the majesty of God’s creation, but one boy on the Swiss-Italian border got the message.
Anselm grew up on breathtaking St. Bernard. His mother frequently reminded him of the Creator, and Anselm imagined God living among the Alps. In his mid-teens Anselm, quarreling with his father, entered a French monastery where he expanded his knowledge of God through study of Scripture. His keen mind and mature faith led to repeated calls from England, and eventually Anselm crossed the channel to become archbishop of Canterbury.
His life and teaching breathed of Christ. Belief in God, Anselm felt, was rational and logical, not a blind leap of mindless faith. The beauty of creation evidenced God’s existence; and furthermore, the very fact that our minds could imagine an infinite, loving God gave evidence that he existed. Anselm’s famous argument for God’s existence said that if God could exist in our minds, he could exist in reality.
But Anselm’s deepest writings were on the atonement, which he defined as Christ’s blood being a “satisfaction” made to God by the Lord Jesus. Love of Christ’s atonement brought Anselm comfort when he found himself in the crossfire between the pope and English king. The redheaded King William Rufus (Rufus the Red) was profane and violent. He reputedly arose a worse man every morning, and went to bed a worse man every night. He enjoyed seeing animals and men tortured, while Anselm would go out of his way to save a hare.
Banished and recalled, exiled and returned, Anselm bore his trials with strength until April 21, 1109, when, surrounded by friends, he passed away at age 76 as morning was breaking. Friends lifted his dying body from the bed and placed it on ashes in the floor. Thus he met his Creator face to face, whom he had first recognized in the beauty of the Alps and in the pages of the Holy Bible.
I look to the hills! Where will I find help? It will come from the Lord, Who created the heavens and the earth. The Lord is your protector, And he won’t go to sleep or let you stumble. The protector of Israel doesn’t doze or ever get drowsy. (Psalm 121:1-4)
Robert J. Morgan, On This Day : 265 Amazing and Inspiring Stories About Saints, Martyrs & Heroes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000, c1997). Apr. 21.