Begin to Have What You Wish

From “Letter 112, to Hugh the Recluse” (1083)

The love which will unite God with those who love [in heaven], and the latter among themselves, will be such that all will love one another as themselves, and all will love God more than themselves.

Hence, no one will have any other desire there than what God wills; and the desire of one will be the desire of all; and the desire of all and of each one will also be the desire of God. All together, and as one single person, will be one sole ruler with God, for all will desire one single thing and their desire will be realized. This is the good that, from the heights of heaven, God declares he will put on sale.

If someone asks at what price, here is the response: the one who offers a kingdom in heaven has no need of earthly money. No one can give God what already belongs to him, since everything that exists is his. Yet God does not give such a great thing unless one attaches value to it; he does not give it to one who does not appreciate it. For no one gives a prized possession to someone who attaches no value to it. Hence, although God has no need of your goods, he will not give you such a great thing as long as you disdain to love it, he requires only love, but without it nothing obliges him to give. Love, then, and you will receive the kingdom. Love, and you will possess it.

And since to reign in heaven is nothing other than to adhere to God and to all the saints, through love, in a single will, to the point that all together exercise only one power, love God more than yourself and you will already begin to have what you wish to possess perfectly in heaven. Put yourself at peace with God and with others — if the latter do not separate themselves from God — and you will already begin to reign with God and all the saints. For to the extent that you now conform to the will of God and to that of the others, God and all the saints will concur with your will. Hence, if you want to rule in heaven, love God and others as you should, and you will merit to be what you desire.

St. Anselm (1033-1109) was an Italian abbot and theologian, who served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 until his death. A gifted philosophical theologian, he developed the first ontological proofs for God’s existence and the satisfaction theory of the atonement, which is presented in his famous treatise Cur Deus Homo (“Why God Became Man”). Under his leadership, the Abbey of Bec became Europe’s foremost seat of scholarship. Anselm’s tenure as archbishop was marked by conflict with English kings as he insistently sought reform. His feast day is April 21.

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