Easter comes to us just about as late on the calendar as Easter can fall this year. And because of that, we have the happy accident of Maundy Thursday, the first of the Great Three Days (the "Triduum"), being on April 21st, the day Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints has designated to remember Anselm, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who died in 1109.
Anslem was a scholar and a "big" theological thinker. He is remembered, for among other things, his "ontological argument" concerning the existence of God: God being "that than which nothing greater can be thought." He also is remembered for developing a spirituality based on a "faith seeking understanding." He defined this when he wrote "I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order that I may understand. For this, too, I believe, that unless I first believe, I shall not understand."
Having Anselm's day of remembrance on the first day of the Triduum is most apropos. We enter today one of the great mystery's of our faith: Jesus' last supper, betrayal, persecution, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection. What better theologian to fall on this day than Anslem? His teachings remind us to live into this gift of faith we have been given, to believe in order that we may, some day, understand.
At services tonight, with many churches performing the ritual of foot-washing, the Sacrament being moved to an Altar of Repose, an Agape meal, and than the Stripping of the Altar, readying the space and ourselves for Good Friday services, we need to remember our faith in order that we may live into and find belief leading us to understanding. A sacred walk into the mystery of these Great Three Days to us all.....
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Art: Cross Number 3, jfd+, 2007