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27 These and similar admonitions, most wise and holy, given by Anselm even to the lords and kings of the world, may well be repeated by the pastors and princes of the Church, as the natural defenders of truth, justice, and religion in the world. In our times, indeed, the obstacles in the way of doing this have been enormously increased so that there is, in truth, hardly room to stand without difficulty and danger. For while unbridled license reigns supreme the Church is obstinately fettered, the very name of liberty is mocked, and new devices are constantly being invented to thwart the work of yourselves and your clergy, so that it is no wonder that "you are not able to do everything all at once" for the correction of the erring, the suppression of abuses, the promotion of right ideas and right living, and the mitigation of the evils which weigh on the Church.
28 But there is comfort for us: the Lord liveth and "He will make all things work together unto good to them that love God" (Rm 8,28). Even from these evils He will bring good, and above all the obstacles devised by human perversity He will make more splendid the triumph of His work and of His Church. Such is the wonderful design of the Divine Wisdom and such "His unsearchable ways" (Ib. 11. 33) in the present order of Providence--"for my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor my ways your ways, said the Lord" (Is 55,8)--that the Church of Christ is destined ever to renew in herself the life of her Divine Founder who suffered so much, and in a manner to "fill up what is wanting of the sufferings of Christ" (Col 1,24). Hence her condition as militant on earth divinely constrains her to live in the midst of contentions, troubles, and difficulties, that thus «through many tribulations she may enter into the kingdom of God" (Ac 14,21), and at last be united with the Church triumphant in heaven.
29 Anselm's commentary on the passage of St. Matthew: " Jesus constrained His disciples to enter the boat," is directly to the point: "The words in their mystical sense summarize the state of the Church from the coming of Jesus Christ to the end of the world. The ship, then, was buffeted by the waves in the midst of the sea, while Jesus remained on the summit of the mountain; for ever since the Savior ascended to heaven holy Church has been agitated by great tribulations in the world, buffeted by various storms of persecution, harassed by the divers perversities of the wicked, and in many ways assailed by vice. Because the wind was contrary, because the influence of malign spirits is constantly opposed to her to prevent her from reaching the port of salvation, striving to submerge her under the opposing waves of the world, stirring up against her all possible difficulties" (Hom. iii. 22).
30 They err greatly, therefore, who lose faith during the storm, wishing for themselves and the Church a permanent state of perfect tranquillity, universal prosperity, and practical, unanimous and uncontested recognition of her sacred authority. But the error is worse when men deceive themselves with the idea of gaining an ephemeral peace by cloaking the rights and interests of the Church, by sacrificing them to private interests, by minimizing them unjustly, by truckling to the world, "the whole of which is seated in wickedness" (I Ioan. 5,19) on the pretext of reconciling the followers of novelties and bringing them back to the Church, as though any composition were possible between light and darkness, between Christ and Belial. This hallucination is as old as the world, but it is always modern and always present in the world so long as there are soldiers who are timid or treacherous, and at the first onset ready to throw down their arms or open negotiations with the enemy, who is the irreconcilable enemy of God and man.
31 It is for you, therefore, venerable brethren, whom Divine Providence has constituted to be the pastors and leaders of the Christian people, to resist with all your strength this most fatal tendency of modern society to lull itself in a shameful indolence while war is being waged against religion, seeking a cowardly neutrality made up of weak schemes and compromises to the injury of divine and human rights, to the oblivion of Christ's clear sentence: "He that is not with me is against me" (Mt 12,30). Not indeed that it is not well at times to waive our rights as far as may lawfully be done and as the good of souls requires. And certainly this defect can never be charged to you who are spurred on by the charity of Christ. But this is only a reasonable condescension, which can be made without the slightest detriment to duty, and which does not at all affect the eternal principles of truth and justice.
32 Thus we read how it was verified in the cause of Anselm, or rather in the cause of God and the Church, for which Anselm had to undergo such long and bitter conflicts. And when he had settled at last the long contest Our Predecessor Paschal II wrote to him: "We believe that it has been through your charity and through your persistent prayers that the Divine mercy has been persuaded to turn to the people entrusted to your care." And referring to the paternal indulgence shown by the Supreme Pontiff to the guilty, he adds: "As regards the great indulgence We have shown, know that it is the fruit of Our great affection and compassion in order that We might be able to lift up those who were down. For if the one standing erect merely holds out his hand to a fallen man, he will never lift him unless he too bends down a little. Besides, although this act of stooping may seem like the act of falling, it never goes so far as to lose the equilibrium of rectitude" (In lib. 3,Epist. S. Anselmi, ep. 140).
33 In making our own these words of Our most pious Predecessor, written for the consolation of Anselm, We would not hide Our very keen sense of the danger which confronts the very best among the pastors of the Church of passing the just limit either of indulgence or resistance. How they have realized this danger is easily to be seen in the anxieties, trepidations, and tears of most holy men who have had borne in upon them the terrible responsibility of the government of souls and the greatness of the danger to which they are exposed, but it is to be seen most strikingly in the life of Anselm. When he was torn from the solitude of the studious life of the cloister, to be raised to a lofty dignity in most difficult times, he found himself a prey to the most tormenting solicitude and anxiety, and chief of all the fear that he might not do enough for the salvation of his own soul and the souls of his people, for the honor of God and of His Church. But amid all these anxieties and in the grief he felt at seeing himself abandoned culpably by many, even including his brethren in the episcopate, his one great comfort was his trust in God and in the Apostolic See. Threatened with shipwreck, and while the storm raged round him, he took refuge in the bosom of the Church, his Mother, invoking from the Roman Pontiff pitiful and prompt aid and comfort (Epistol. lib. 3,ep. 37); God, perhaps, permitted that this great man, full of wisdom and sanctity as he was, should suffer such heavy tribulation, in order that he might be a comfort and an example to us in the greatest difficulties and trials of the pastoral ministry, and that the sentence of Paul might be realized in each one of us: "Gladly will I glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may dwell in me. For which cause I please myself in my infirmities ... for when I am weak then am I powerful" (2Co 12,9-10). Such indeed are the sentiments which Anselm expressed to Urban II.: "Holy Father, I am grieved that I am not what I was, grieved to be a bishop, because by reason of my sins I do not perform the office of a bishop. While I was in a lowly position, I seemed to be doing something; set in a lofty place, burdened by an immense weight, I gain no fruit for myself, and am of no use to anybody. I give way beneath the burden because I am incredibly poor in the strength, virtue, zeal, and knowledge necessary for so great an office. I would fain flee from the insupportable anxiety and leave the burden behind me, but, on the other hand, I fear to offend God. The fear of God obliged me to accept it, the same fear of God constrains me to retain the same burden. Now, since God's will is hidden from me, and I know not what to do, I wander about in sighs, and know not how to put an end to it all" (Epist. Lib. 3,ep. 37).
34 Thus does God bring home even to saintly men their natural weakness, in order the better to make manifest in them the power of strength from above, and, by a humble and real sense of their individual insufficiency, to preserve with greater force their obedience to the authority of the Church. We see it in the case of Anselm and of other contemporaries of his who fought for the liberty and doctrine of the Church under the guidance of the Apostolic See. The fruit of their obedience was victory in the strife, and their example confirmed the Divine sentence that "the obedient man will sing victory" (Pr 21,28). The hope of the same reward shines out for all those who obey Christ in His Vicar in all that concerns the guidance of souls, or the government of the Church, or that is in any way connected with these objects: since "upon the authority of the Holy See depend the directions and the counsels of the sons of the Church" (Epist. Lib. 4,ep. 1).
35 How Anselm excelled in this virtue, with what warmth and fidelity he ever maintained perfect union with the Apostolic See, may be seen in the words he wrote to Pope Paschal: "How earnestly my mind, according to the measure of its power, clings in reverence and obedience to the Apostolic See, is proved by the many and most painful tribulations of my heart, which are known only to God and myself... From this union I hope in God that there is nothing which could ever separate me. Therefore do I desire, as far as this is possible, to put all my acts at the disposition of this same authority in order that it may direct and when necessary correct them" (Ibid. ep. 5).
36 The same strong constancy is shown in all his actions and writings, and especially in his letters which Our Predecessor Paschal describes as «written with the pen of charity" (In lib. 3,Epist. S. Anselmi, ep. 74). But in his letters to the Pontiff he does not content himself with imploring pitiful aid and comfort; he also promises assiduous prayers, in most tender words of filial affection and unswerving faith, as when, while still Abbot of Bec, he wrote to Urban II: "For your tribulation and that of the Roman Church, which is our tribulation and that of all the true faithful, we never cease praying God assiduously to mitigate your evil days, till the pit be dug for the sinner. And although He seems to delay, we are certain that the Lord will not leave the scepter of sinners over the heritage of the just, that He will never abandon His heritage and that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (In libro ii. Epist. S. Anselmi, ep. 33).
37 In this and other similar letters of Anselm We find wonderful comfort not only in the renewal of the memory of a Saint so devoted to the Apostolic See, but because they serve to recall your own letters and your other innumerable proofs of devotion, venerable brethren, in similar conflicts and similar sorrows.
38 Certainly it is a wonderful thing that the union of the Bishops and the faithful with the Roman Pontiff has drawn ever more and more close amid the hurtling of the storms that have been let loose on Christianity through the ages, and in our own times it has become so unanimous and so warm that its divine character is more apparent than ever before. It is indeed Our greatest consolation, as it is the glory and the invincible bulwark of the Church. But its very force makes it all the more an object of envy to the demon and of hatred to the world, which knows nothing similar to it in earthly societies, and finds no explanation of it in political and human reasonings, seeing that it is the fulfillment of Christ's sublime prayer at the Last Supper.
39 But, venerable brethren, it behooves us to strive by all means to preserve this divine union and render it ever more intimate and cordial, fixing our gaze not on human considerations but on those that are divine, in order that we may be all one thing alone in Christ. By developing this noble effort we shall fulfill ever better our sublime mission which is that of continuing and propagating the work of Christ, and of His Kingdom on earth. This, indeed, is why the Church throughout the ages continues to repeat the loving prayer, which is also the warmest aspiration of Our heart: "Holy Father, keep them in thy name, whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we also are" (loan. xvii. 11).
40 This effort is necessary not only to oppose the assaults from without of those who fight openly against the liberty and the rights of the Church, but also in order to meet the dangers from within, arising from that second kind of war which We deplored above when We made mention of those misguided persons who are trying by their cunning systems to overthrow from the foundations the very constitution and essence of the Church, to stain the purity of her doctrine, and destroy her entire discipline. For even still there continues to circulate that poison which has been inoculated into many even among the clergy, and especially the young clergy, who have, as We have said, become infected by the pestilential atmosphere, in their unbridled craving for novelty which is drawing them to the abyss and drowning them.
41 Then again, by a deplorable aberration, the very progress, good in itself, of positive science and material prosperity, gives occasion and pretext for a display of intolerable arrogance towards divinely revealed truth on the part of many weak and intemperate minds. But these should rather remember the many mistakes and the frequent contradictions made by the followers of rash novelties in those questions of a speculative and practical order most vital for man; and realize that human pride is punished by never being able to be coherent with itself and by suffering shipwreck without ever sighting the port of truth. They are not able to profit by their own experience to humble themselves and "to destroy the counsels and every height that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every understanding even unto the obedience of Christ" (2Co 10,4-5).
42 Nay, their very arrogance has led them into the other extreme, and their philosophy throwing doubt on everything has involved them in darkness: hence the present profession of agnosticism with other absurd doctrines springing from an infinite series of systems in discord with one another and with right reason; so that "they have become vain in their thoughts ... for professing themselves to be wise they became fools" (Rm 1,21-22).
43 But unfortunately their grandiloquent phrases and their promises of a new wisdom, fallen as it were from heaven, and of new methods of thought, have found favor with many young men, as those of the Manicheans found favor with Augustine, and have returned these aside, more or less unconsciously, from the right road. But concerning such pernicious masters of an insane knowledge, of their aims, their illusions, their erroneous and disastrous systems, We have spoken at great length in Our Encyclical Letter of September 8, 1907, .
44 Here it is well to note that if the dangers We have mentioned are more serious and more imminent in our own days, they are not altogether different from those that threatened the doctrine of the Church in the time of St. Anselm, and that we may find in his labors as Doctor almost the same help and comfort for the safeguarding of the truth as we found in his apostolic firmness for the defense of the liberty and rights of the Church.
45 Without entering here in detail into the intellectual state of the clergy and people in that distant age, there was a notable danger in a twofold excess to which the intellects of the time were prone.
46 There was at the time a class of lightminded and vain men, fed on a superficial erudition, who became incredibly puffed up with their undigested culture, and allowed themselves to be led away by a simulacrum of philosophy and dialectics. In their inane fallacy, which they called by the name of science, "they despised the sacred authority, dared with impious temerity to dispute one or other of the dogmas professed by Catholic faith ... and in their foolish pride considered anything they could not understand as impossible, instead of confessing with humble wisdom that there might be many things beyond the reach of their comprehension... For there are some who immediately they have begun to grow the horns of an overweening knowledge--not knowing that when a person thinks he knows something, he does not yet know in what manner he should know it--before they have grown spiritual wings through firmness in the faith, are wont to rise presumptuously to the highest questions of the faith. Thus it happens that while against all right rules they endeavor to rise prematurely by their intelligence, their lack of intelligence brings them down to manifold errors" (S. Anselm., "De Fide Trinitatis," cap. 2). And of such as these we have many painful examples under our eyes!
47 Others, again, there were of a more timid nature, who in their terror at the many cases of those who had made shipwreck of the faith, and fearing the danger of the science that puffeth up, went so far as to exclude altogether the use of philosophy, if not of all rational discussion of the sacred doctrines.
48 Midway between these two excesses stands the Catholic practice. which. while it abhors the presumption of the first class who "puffed up like bladders with the wind of vanity" (according to the phrase of Gregory XIV in the succeeding age) "went beyond the true limits in their efforts to establish the faith by natural reason adulterating the word of God with the figments of the philosopher" (Gregor. IX, Epist. "Tacti dolore cordis" ad theologos Parisien, 7 Jul. 1228), so too it condemns the negligence of the second class in their excessive neglect of true investigation, and the absence of all desire in them "to draw profit from the faith for their intelligence" (In lib. ii. Epist. S. Anselmi, ep. 41.), especially when their office requires of them to defend the Catholic faith against the errors that arise on all sides.
49 For this defense, it may well be said that Anselm was raised up by God to point out by his example, his words, and his writings, the safe road, to unseal for the common good the spring of Christian wisdom and to be the guide and rule of those Catholic teachers who after him taught "the sacred letters by the method of the school" (Breviar. Rom., die 21 Aprilis), and who thus came rightly to be esteemed and celebrated as their precursor.
50 Not, indeed, that the Doctor of Aosta reached all at once the heights of theological and philosophical speculation, or the reputation of the two supreme masters Thomas and Bonaventure. The later fruits of the wisdom of these last did not ripen but with time and the collaboration of many doctors. Anselm himself, with that great modesty so characteristic of the truly wise, and with all his learning and perspicacity, never published any writings except such as were called forth by circumstances, or when compelled thereto by some authority, and in those he did publish he protests that "if there is anything that calls for correction he does not refuse the correction" ("Cur Deus homo," lib. ii. cap. 23), nay, when the question is a debated one, and not connected with the faith, he tells his disciple: "you must not so cling to what we have said as to abide by it obstinately, when others with more weighty arguments succeed in overthrowing ours and establishing opinions against them; should that happen you will not deny at least that what we have said has been of profit for exercise in controversy" ("De Grammatico," cap. 21 sub finem).
51 Yet Anselm accomplished far more than he ever expected or than others expected of him. He secured a position in which his merits were not dimmed by the glory of those that came after him, not even of the great Thomas, even when the latter declined to accept all his conclusions and treated more clearly and accurately questions already treated by him. To Anselm belongs the distinction of having opened the road to speculation, of removing the doubts of the timid, the dangers of the incautious, and the injuries done by the quarrelsome and the sophistical, "the heretical dialecticians" of his time, as he rightly calls them, in whom reason was the slave of the imagination and of vanity ("De fide Trinitatis" cap. 2).
52 Against these latter he observes that "while all are to be warned to enter with the utmost circumspection upon questions affecting the Sacred Scriptures, these dialecticians of our time are to be completely debarred from the discussion of spiritual questions." And the reason he assigns for this is especially applicable now to those who imitate them under our eyes, repeating their old errors: "For in their souls, reason, which should be the king and the guide of all that is in man, is so mixed up with corporal imaginations that it is impossible to disentangle it from these, nor is itself able to distinguish from them things that it alone and pure should contemplate" (Ibid. cap. 2). Appropriate, too, for our own times are those words of his in which he ridicules those false philosophers, "who because they are not able to understand what they believe dispute the truth of the faith itself, confirmed by the Holy Fathers, just as if bats and owls who see the heaven only by night were to dispute concerning the rays of the sun at noon, against eagles who gaze at the sun unblinkingly" (Ibid.).
53 Hence too he condemns, here or elsewhere, the perverse opinion of those who conceded too much to philosophy by attributing to it the right to invade the domain of theology. In refuting this foolish theory he defines well the confines proper to each, and hints sufficiently clearly at the functions of reason in the things of divinely revealed doctrine: "Our faith," he says, "must be defended by reason against the impious" (In lib. ii. Epist. S. Anselmi, ep. 41). But how and how far? The question is answered in the words that follow: "It must be shown to them reasonably how unreasonable is their contempt of us" (Ibid.). The chief office, therefore, of philosophy is to show us the reasonableness of our faith and the consequent obligation of believing the divine authority proposing to us the profoundest mysteries, which with all signs of credibility that testify to them, are supremely worthy of being believed. Far different is the proper function of Christian theology, which is based on the fact of divine revelation and renders more solid in the faith those who already profess to enjoy the honor of the name of Christian. "Hence it is altogether clear that no Christian should dispute as to how that is not which the Catholic Church believes with the heart and confesses with the mouth, but even holding beyond all doubt the same faith, loving and living according to it, must seek as far as reason is able, how it is. If he is able to understand let him return thanks, let him not prepare his horns for attack, but bow his head in reverence" ("De fide Trinitatis," cap 2).
54 When, therefore, theologians search and the faithful ask for reasons concerning our faith, it is not for the purpose of founding on them their faith, which has for its foundation the authority of God revealing; yet, as Anselm puts it, "as right order requires that we believe the profundities of the faith before we presume to discuss them with our reason, so it seems to me to be negligence if after we have been confirmed in the faith we do not strive to understand what we believe" ("Cur Deus homo," lib. i. c. 2). And here Anselm means that intelligence of which the Vatican Council speaks (Constit. "Dei filius," cap 4). For, as he shows elsewhere, "although since the time of the Apostles many of our Holy Fathers and Doctors say so many and such great things of the reason of our faith ... yet they were not able to say all they might have said had they lived longer; and the reason of the truth is so ample and so deep that it can never be exhausted by mortals; and the Lord does not cease to impart the gifts of grace in his Church, with whom He promises to be until the consummation of the world. And to say nothing of the other texts in which the Sacred Scripture invites us to investigate reason, in the one in which it says that if you do not believe you will not understand, it plainly admonishes us to extend intention to understanding, when it teaches us how we are to advance towards it." Nor is the last reason he alleges to be neglected: "In the midst between faith and vision is the intellectual knowledge which is within our reach in this life, and the more one can advance in this the nearer he approaches to the vision, for which we all yearn" ("De fide Trinitatis," Praefatio).
55 With these and the like principles Anselm laid the foundations of the true principles of philosophical and theological studies which other most learned men, the princes of scholasticism, and chief among them the Doctor of Aquin, followed, developed, illustrated and perfected to the great honor and protection of the Church. If We have insisted so willingly on this distinction of Anselm, it is in order to have a new and much-desired occasion, venerable brethren, to inculcate upon you to see to it that you bring back youth, especially among the clergy, to the most wholesome springs of Christian wisdom, first opened by the Doctor of Aosta and abundantly enriched by Aquinas. On this head remember always the instructions of Our Predecessor Leo XIII, of happy memory (Encyclical «Aeterni Patris," diei 4 Augusti, an. 1879), and those We have Ourself given more than once, and again in the above-mentioned Encyclical . Bitter experience only too clearly proves every day the loss and the ruin ensuing from the neglect of these studies, or from the pursuit of them without a clear and sure method; while many, before being fitted or prepared, presume to discuss the deepest questions of the faith ("De fide Trinitatis," cap. 2). Deploring this evil with Anselm, We repeat the strong recommendations made by him: "Let no one rashly plunge into the intricate questions of divine things until he has first acquired, with firmness in the faith, gravity of conduct and of wisdom, lest while discussing with uncautious levity amid the manifold twistings of sophistry he fall into the toils of some tenacious error" (Ibid.). And this same incautious levity, when heated, as so often is the case, at the fire of the passions, proves the total ruin of serious studies and of the integrity of doctrine. Because, puffed up with that foolish pride, lamented by Anselm in the heretical dialecticians of his time, they despise the sacred authorities of the Holy Scriptures, and of the Fathers and Doctors, concerning which a more modest genius would be glad to use instead the respectful words of Anselm: "Neither in our own time nor in the future do we ever hope to see their like in the contemplation of the truth" ("De fide Trinitatis," Praefatio.).
56 Nor do they hold in greater account the authority of the Church and of the Supreme Pontiff whenever efforts are made to bring them to a better sense, although at times as far as words go they are lavish of promises of submission as long as they can hope to hide themselves behind these and gain credit and protection. This contempt almost bars the way of all well- founded hope of the conversion of the erring; while they refuse obedience to him "to whom Divine Providence as to the Lord and Father of the whole Church in its pilgrimage on earth ... has entrusted the custody of Christian life and faith and government of His Church; wherefore when anything arises in the Church against the Catholic faith to no other authority but his is it to be rightly referred for correction, and to no other with such certainty as to him has it been shown what answer is to be made to error in order that it may be examined by his prudence" (Ibid. cap. 2). And would to God that these poor wanderers on whose lips one so often hears the fair words of sincerity, conscience, religious experience, the faith that is felt and lived, and so on, learned their lessons from Anselm, understood his holy teachings, imitated his glorious example, and, above all, took deeply to heart those words of his: "First the heart is to be purified by faith, and first the eyes are to be illuminated by the observance of the precepts of the Lord ... and first with humble obedience to the testimonies of God we must become small to learn wisdom . . . and not only when faith and obedience to the commandments are removed is the mind hindered from ascending to the intelligence of higher truths, but often enough the intelligence that has been given is taken away and faith is overthrown, when right conscience is neglected" ("De Fide Trinitatis," cap. 2).
57 But if the erring continue obstinately to scatter the seeds of dissension and error, to waste the patrimony of the sacred doctrine of the Church, to attack discipline, to heap contempt on venerated customs, "to destroy which is a species of heresy" in the phrase of St. Anselm, and to destroy the constitution of the Church in its very foundations, then all the more strictly must we watch, venerable brethren, and keep away from Our flock, and especially from youth which is the most tender part of it, so deadly a pest. This grace We implore of God with incessant prayers, interposing the most powerful patronage of the august Mother of God and the intercession of the blessed citizens of the Church triumphant, St. Anselm especially, shining light of Christian wisdom, incorrupt guardian and valiant defender of all the sacred rights of the Church, to whom We would here, in conclusion, address the same words that Our Holy Predecessor, Gregory VII, wrote to him during his lifetime: "Since the sweet odor of your good works has reached Us, We return due thanks for them to God, and We embrace you heartily in the love of Christ, holding it for certain that by your example the Church of God has been greatly benefited, and that by your prayers and those of men like you she may even be liberated from the dangers that hang over her, with the mercy of Christ to succor us" (S. Anselm, "De nuptiis consanguinerorum," cap. 1). "Hence We beg your fraternity to implore God assiduously to relieve the Church and Us who govern it, albeit unworthily, from the pressing assaults of the heretics, and lead these from their errors to the way of truth" (In lib. ii. Epist. S. Anselmi, ep. 31).
58 Supported by this great protection, and trusting in your co-operation, We bestow the Apostolic Benediction with all affection in the Lord, as a pledge of heavenly grace and in testimony of Our goodwill, on all of you, venerable brethren, and on the clergy and people entrusted to each of you.
Given at Rome at St. Peter's on the Feast of St. Anselm, April 21, 1909, in the eighth year of Our Pontificate.
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