Saints' Prayers

selected from the annals of history unto our current day


Meditations by St. Anselm of Canterbury

from the book, 'Meditations and Prayers'

First Meditation


Wherever we are, we live, move, and are in Him; whilst also we have Him within us.

But, returning from the beatitude that is to be, do thou with the eye of contemplation consider for a while the abundance of grace wherewith He hath enriched thee even in this fleeting life. He, very God, whose dwelling is in heaven, whose throne among the angels, He to whom heaven and earth, with all that they contain, do bow down and obey, has offered Himself to thee as thine abode, and furnished and prepared His presence for thee; for, as the Apostle teaches, "in Him we live, and move, and be" (Acts xvii. 28). So to live, how sweet! So to move, how lovable! So to be, how desirable! For what more sweet than to have life in Him who is the very life of bliss itself? What more lovable than to rule each movement of will or act of ours towards Him and in Him, seeing that He will stablish us in an unending security? What more desirable than in aspiration and in act evermore in Him to be, in whom alone -- or rather who alone -- is true being, and apart from whom none can rightly be? "I AM WHO AM," He says (Exod. iii. 14); and beautifully said it is, for He alone truly IS, whose Being is unchangeable. He, therefore, whose so unapproached Being is being in so transcendent and unique a sense that He alone truly IS; in comparison of whom all being is no being; when He would create thee to so great excellency that thou couldest not even comprehend the lustre of thy dignity, what did He set as the sphere of thy being, what place of abode did He furnish for thee? Hear Him Himself speaking to His own in the Gospel, "Abide in Me, and I in you" (St. John xv. 4). O inconceivable condescension! O blissful abiding! O glorious interchange! What condescension of the Creator, to will that His creature should in Him have dwelling! What inconceivable blessedness of the creature, to dwell in the Creator! How great glory of a rational creation to be, by so blessed an interchange, associated with the Creator, as that He in it and it in Him should have their dwelling! Yes, He of His mercy has willed that we, so highly ennobled in our creation, should have the farther dignity of dwelling in Him. He, governor of all things, without care or solicitude existing over all; He, source and foundation of all things, without toil sustaining all; He, superexcellent above all things, without vain-glory transcending all; He, embracing each and everything that is, without extension of Himself enfolding all; He, the plenitude of all things, without narrowing of Himself, fulfilling all, -- yes, indeed. He, though His Presence is nowhere wanting, has chosen for Himself a kingdom of delights within us; the Gospel bearing witness where it says, "The Kingdom of God is within you" (St. Luke xvii. 21). And if the kingdom of God is within us, and if God dwells in His realm, does not He whose kingdom is within us abide Himself within us? Clearly so; for, in like manner, if God is wisdom, and if the soul of the just is the dwelling of wisdom, he who is truly just has God abiding in him. And the Apostle says, "The temple of God is holy, which temple you are" (1 Cor, iii. 17).

Do thou, therefore, apply thyself unweariedly to the pursuit of holiness, lest thou cease to be the temple of God. He Himself says of His own, "I will dwell in them and walk in them" (2 Cor. vi. 16.). Doubt not, therefore, that wherever there are holy souls, there He is in them. For if thou art in those limbs of thine which thou quickenest, wholly and in all their parts, how much more is God, who created thee and thy body, wholly present in thee through and through? It is thy duty, then, to think with most intense devotion with what consideration and what reverence we should control those senses and those members of our body, over which the very Godhead sits in charge. Let us offer, therefore, as is meet, the whole empire of our heart to so great an Indweller, that nothing in us may rebel against Him; but that air our thoughts, all the movements of our will, all our words, and the whole course and tenour of our actions may wait upon His beck, stand obedient to His will, and be conformed to His rule of right. For thus shall we truly be His kingdom, and He will abide in us; and we, abiding in Him, shall live aright.

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