The newest addition to the TAN Resurrection collection, The Glories of Heaven was written by Saint Anselm of Canterbury and has been translated into English for the first time by Fr. Robert Nixon, OSB. The following excerpt from Fr. Nixon’s Translator’s Note heralds the powerful and resonant teachings to be found in St. Anselm’s writings.
Saint Anselm of Canterbury (1033–1109) occupies a distinguished position amongst the great ecclesiastical leaders and spiritual and theological luminaries who have adorned the Benedictine Order. His Proslogion (articulating the famous “ontological argument” for God’s existence), Monologion, and the treatise Cur Deus Homo (Why God Became Human) are all indispensable and foundational reading for any serious student of theology. Yet, apart from the learned philosophical and theological works of this illustrious Doctor of the Church, Anselm also produced a very considerable corpus of profound and moving mystical and devotional writings. One such work, which is of particular importance and beauty, is presented in this volume in English translation for the first time: De Beatitudine Coelestis Patriae (On the Beatitude of the Celestial Homeland, entitled here The Glories of Heaven: The Supernatural Gifts that Await Body and Soul in Paradise).
The Glories of Heaven is a transcription of a conference given by Anselm to the monks at the great monastery of Cluny in France. The actual scribe is identified as the monk Eadmer of Canterbury. This Eadmer was a friend and student of Anselm, and he also wrote his most complete and authoritative biography. In the course of this extended conference, Anselm describes systematically various aspects of the happiness of heaven. Although the joys of heaven necessarily transcend and surpass all that can possibly be imagined or expressed, the author postulates that whatever brings us joy during our earthly life will also be present in heaven, but extrapolated there to an infinite degree both in intensity and duration. Thus all the joys experienced in passing and fragmentary form in the here-and-now will be given to us in complete fullness and perfection in the life of eternity.
The spiritual value of the contemplation of the glories of heaven perhaps tends to be overlooked by many contemporary Christians. Yet it is a powerful and potent source of motivation, encouragement, and consolation. Saint Benedict, in his Rule, urges us to “yearn for everlasting life with holy desire.” Anselm’s eloquent conference on this subject certainly serves to enliven such holy desires and to awaken such noble yearnings.
In addition, Anselm’s Mediation on the Day of Judgment and the Blessings of Heaven and Exhortation to Strive for the Glories of Heaven are included here. These works, which continue to treat the theme of the glories and joys of heaven, present a spirituality which is radically eschatological. Namely, Anselm urges the reader to live in a manner which is oriented towards future and eternal realities. We witness in these short treatises Anselm’s legendary skills as a homilist. His powerful and resonant words can hardly fail to move the soul to a holy desire for the blessings and peace of paradise and the radiant splendors of the New Jerusalem.
As well as these fascinating and inspiring works, a translation of the biography of Saint Anselm from the Tridentine Breviarium Romanum is included in this volume.
Anselm of Canterbury, the “Doctor Magnificus,” was a saint who united the mysticism and austerity of the contemplative and monastic life with the zeal and pastoral diligence of apostolic and episcopal ministry. His writings similarly unite penetrating intelligence and clear, analytical reasoning with overflowing and ardent devotion and passionate imagination. May they continue to guide today’s readers in their search for God and inflame in our hearts a desire for the joys and glories of our celestial homeland. And may Saint Anselm intercede for each of us and for the holy Catholic Church. Amen.
This excerpt is taken from The Glories of Heaven: The Supernatural Gifts that Await Body & Soul in Paradise, translated and edited by Fr. Robert Nixon, O.S.B., available now at TAN Books.