Big Feast of St. Anselm – April 21, 2021;

The Beginnings of the Truly Realistic Philosophy that is Christian

              St. Anselm of Canterbury’s famous proof for the existence of God in his Proslogion is one of the most profound formulations in the history of theology. Indeed, the Dutch theologian Fr. Frans Jozef van Beeck, S.J. declares that “Few arguments in the history of Christian thought have provoked so much commentary and have so captivated the philosophical imagination of the West as Anselm’s ontological argument.”[1] It spawns from St. Anselm’s experience of that ultimate problem common to all humanity: The sense that God is present and pervasive in the world around us yet still so out of reach and hard to grasp. “Domine, si hic non es, ubi te quaeram absentem? Si autem ubique es, cur non video praesentem? Lord, if you are not here, where shall I seek you, being absent? But if you are everywhere, why do I not see you present?”[2] In thinking about this God, St. Anselm is ultimately lead to conclude that God is “aliquid quo nihil, maius cogitari posit; something than which nothing greater can be thought.” 

It also occurs to me: the provocative question of  John the Baptist: “Are you he who is to come of should we look for another” (Matthes 11, 3)?  The point being that John was in doubt about Christ and was looking for sensible confirmation in the order of”neon signs” and “dollar bills” [Ratzinger, “Dogma and Preaching” (to be cited)].    

Apparently, Anselm appeals to his and the universal experience that God is present and pervasive in the world around us, yet we cannot see Him. We accept that God is Creator of all that is taken in by the senses, and Creator of me as real [as I sense myself. And To be quick, I would offer that the key to get at Anselm are the words “I” and “experience.” And I take my start from Karol Wojtyla’s “Acting Person” where he offers that in every affirmation of the visible world present to me, I have an experience of myself. In the experience of the thing I am aware of the visible. In that same act of experience, I am conscious of the invisible “I.”   I experience the “thing,” and I experience and am conscious of myself. The thing is visible, and I am invisible to myself. Both are experiences of reality.

   And there we have the “Christian Distinction” so named by Sokolowski. In “The God of Faith and Reason.”)

   This opens the door to the distinction of Faith and Reason, the relation of faith and reason, and in fact (as Ratzinger remarked), the possibility of reason. That is, without the experience of receiving the Revelation of the Father who is the Person of Jesus Christ, human reason would not be exposed to “being” because the “being” that reason experiences in receiving the Person of Christ is the believing person himself – i.e. me. The real being that I experience is not through the senses since the senses offer me “perceptions” that are not real beings. They are perceptions – likeness of things – of things. It is only in the act of mastering/determining myself that I open myself to receive the Word and Person of Christ that I experience myself of going out of myself [ receiving Him, and in so doing become Him] in the act of faith and trust  in hearing the Word, that I experience myself as real.

   Read Robert Sokolowski [the Masterpiece: “The God of Faith and Reason” UNDP (1982)] – also Karol Wojtyla: “Person and Community”

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