Lent Madness: Aelred vs. AnskarPosted: March 2, 2010
Well, sports fans, here we go. Lent Madness has arrived. The initial matchup in our saintly smackdown pits Aelred vs. Anskar. Cast your votes below and afterwards I’d love to hear some comments and/or lobbying on one or the other’s behalf. The polls on each head-to-head competition remain open for 24 hours before a winner is declared. For the full 32-saint bracket, click here: Lent Madness 2010
Aelred (1110–1167) was an English monastic and writer who served as Abbot of Rievaulx from 1147 until his death. As a writer, his best known work was On Spiritual Friendship but he also wrote seven works of history.
Interestingly, Aelred’s writings on friendship have made him the patron saint of several gay advocacy groups including Integrity. And while he seems to have rejected homosexuality in his other famous work Mirror of Charity, along with any sexual activity outside of marriage, some have inferred from his writings that he was gay.
This passage in particular seems to have raised the eyebrows: “While I was still a schoolboy, the charm of my friends greatly captivated me, so that among the foibles and failings with which that age is fraught, my mind surrendered itself completely to emotion and devoted itself to love. Nothing seemed sweeter or nicer or more worthwhile than to love and be loved.” Was Aelred gay? It’s not clear.
The Collect for Aelred: Pour into our hearts, O God, the Holy Spirit’s gift of love, that we, clasping each the other’s hand, may share the joy of friendship, human and divine, and with your servant Aelred draw many to your community of love; through Jesus Christ the Righteous, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Anskar, though born in France in 801 and named Archbishop of Hamburg in Germany, is most closely identified with Scandinavia. He was a missionary to both Denmark and Sweden and he consecrated the first bishop of Sweden. The Church of Sweden honors him as its apostle and he serves as a symbol of the historic friendship between the Anglican Church and the Church of Sweden.
One of Anskar’s best known quotes occured when one of his followers suggested to him that he could work miracles. He replied, “Were I worthy of such a favour from my God, I would ask that He would grant to me this one miracle, that by His grace He would make of me a good man.”
The Collect for Anskar: Almighty and everlasting God, who sent your servant Anskar as an apostle to the people of Scandinavia, and enabled him to lay a firm foundation for their conversion, though he did not see the results of his labors: Keep your Church from discouragement in the day of small things, knowing that when you have begun a good work you will bring it to a faithful conclusion; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.