But today, I’d like to share my favorite quote from Anselm. It is found in his “Exhortation to a Dying Man,” in which he consoles those who are about to face death by asking them a series of questions.
The first set of questions is aimed at fellow clergy and the second is for laypeople.
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Question. Do you rejoice, brother, that you are dying in the Christian Faith?
Answer. I do rejoice. . . .
Qu. Do you confess that you have lived so wickedly, that eternal punishment is due to your own merits?
An. I confess it.
Qu. Do you repent of this?
An. I do repent.
Qu. Do you have the willingness to amend your life, if you had time?
An. I have.
Qu. Do you believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died for you?
An. I believe it.
Qu. Do you thank Him [for His passion and death]?
An. I do thank Him.
Qu. Do you believe that you cannot be saved except by His Death?
An. I believe it.
Come then, while life remains in you, in His death alone place your whole trust; in nothing else place any trust; to His death commit yourself wholly; with this alone cover yourself wholly; in this enwrap yourself wholly.
And if the Lord your God wishes to judge you, say, “Lord, between Your judgment and me I present the death of our Lord Jesus Christ; in no other way can I contend with You.” And if He shall say that you are a sinner; you say, “Lord, I interpose the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my sins and You.” If He says that you have deserved condemnation; say, “Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my evil deserts and You; and His merits I offer for those which I ought to have, but have not.” If He says that He is angry with you; say, “Lord I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between Your wrath and me.” And when you hast completed this, say again, “Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between You and me.”
This done, let the sick man say thrice, “Into Your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit, for You have redeemed me, O Lord, God of truth.” . . .
If he is a layman, he should be questioned after the following manner . . .
Qu. Do you believe the things which belong unto the Christian faith, so far as regards what has been determined by the church?
An. I do believe.
Qu. Do you rejoice that you are dying in the Christian faith?
An. I do rejoice.
Qu. Do you grieve that you have offended your Creator?
An. I do grieve.
Qu. Do you purpose, if God prolong your life, to abstain from offending Him?
An. I do purpose.
Qu. Do you hope and believe, that not by your own merits, but by the merits of the passion of Jesus Christ, you may attain to everlasting salvation?
An. I do.
Then follows the assurance: and then let him say,
If any oppose you, and should object to you, set between him and you the merits of Christ’s passion.
Source: “Anselm’s Exhortation to a Dying Man, Greatly Alarmed on Account of His Sins.” Trans. from Meditations and Prayers, 275–77. English rendered clearer. Latin source: Migne, Patroligae Latinae 158.686-687.