by Saint Anselm of Canterbury (+1109)
God, whose goodness is not exhausted, whose mercy is not emptied out, whose knowledge does not fail, whose power can effect what you will; whence shall I ever be able to get back life, who have thus been driven desperate by my sins? For if you are angry against sinners, at least, kind Lord, you are accustomed to give counsel to those who plead with you. Teach me, O Lord, whence I ought to hope, so that I can pray. For I long to pray to you; but I neither know how because of my ignorance, nor am I able to because of my hardness. And I am forbidden to do it by despair because of my sins. I seek for something that will excuse me, and there is nothing that does not accuse me. I seek for someone who will pray for me, and I find whatever exists is against me. I seek for someone to have mercy upon a wretch, and all that has being opposes the wretch.
Jesus, good Lord, why did you come down from heaven, what did you do in the world, to what end did you give yourself over to death, unless it was that you might save sinners? Saint Paul, what did you teach when you were passing through the world? God, and his apostles, and you most of all, invite us sinners to faith; you show us this as our only safe refuge. How then should I not hope, if I believe this, and ask in this faith? How can this hope be frustrated in me, if that faith does not fail me from which it was born?