Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Theologian's Prayer

Most Christians have never heard of St. Anselm of Canterbury and even fewer have read his magnificent works called the Monologion and the Proslogion, but I think they are essential reading. If you read nothing else from St. Anselm, be sure to read the first chapter of the Proslogion. It is a beautiful and rich combination of deep theology, devotional writing, and prayer. I am convinced that the world of theology would be much better if chapter 1 of the Proslogion were engraved on the hearts and minds of every theologian.  

Here is the end of the chapter which I have dubbed as:

The ideal theologian's prayer. 

Let me discern Your light whether it be from afar or from the depths. Teach me to seek You, and reveal Yourself to me as I seek, because I can neither seek You if You do not teach me how , nor find You unless you reveal Yourself. Let me seek You in desiring You; let me desire You in seeking You; let me find You in loving You; let me love You in finding You.
I acknowledge, Lord, and I give You thanks that You have created Your image in me, so that I may remember You, think of You, love You. But this image is so effaced and worn away by vice, so darkened by the smoke of sin, that it cannot do what it was made to do unless You renew it and reform it. I do not try, Lord, to attain Your lofty heights, because my understanding is in no way equal to it. But I do desire to understand Your truth a little, that truth that my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand that I may believe; but I believe that I may understand. For I believe this also, that 'unless I believe, I shall not understand' (Isaiah 7:9)

Text from: Anselm of Canterbury: The Major Works. Translated by Brian Davies and J.R. Evans. Published by Oxford University Press.

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