Augustine of Hippo: “The purpose of our instruction is to arouse the love that comes from a pure heart, and clear conscience, and a genuine faith” Friday, Oct 7 2016 

St Augustine of AfricaSpeak that by hearing those whom you address may believe, and that belief may give them hope, and hope inspire them to love

In everything we say we should bear in mind that the purpose of our instruction is to arouse the love that comes from a pure heart, and clear conscience, and a genuine faith.

This is the end to which we should relate all our words, and toward which we should also move and direct the thoughts of those for whose instruction we are speaking.

The chief reason for Christ’s coming was so that we should know how much God loves us, and knowing this be on fire with love for him who loved us first, and for our neighbour at the bidding and after the example of him who became our neighbour by loving us when we were not his neighbours, but had wandered far from him.

Moreover, all inspired Scripture written before the Lord’s coming was written to foretell that coming, and all that was later committed to writing and ratified by divine authority speaks of Christ and teaches us to love.

It is clear therefore that upon these two commandments, love of God and of our neighbour, depend not only the whole of the Law and the Prophets, which was all that made up holy Scripture when the Lord spoke these words, but also all the divinely inspired books which were later written for our salvation and handed down to us.

In the Old Testament, then, the New is concealed, and in the New the Old is revealed. Insofar as the New Testament is con­cealed, worldly people, who interpret Scripture in a worldly way, are now as in the past subject to the fear of punishment.

But insofar as the Old Testament has been revealed, spiritual people, who interpret Scripture spiritually, are set free by the gift of love; that is to say, both those of old to whose devout knocking hidden things were made known, and those of today who seek without pride, for fear that even what is manifest may be hidden from them.

And so, since nothing is more contrary to love than envy, and the mother of envy is pride, to cure our boundless conceit by a more powerful antidote, the Lord Jesus Christ, God and man, became both the proof of God’s love for us, and the example of humility among us. Great is the misery of human pride, but even greater is the mercy of divine humility.

With this love before you, then, you have something to which you may relate everything you say; so speak that by hearing those whom you address may believe, and that belief may give them hope, and hope inspire them to love.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): De catechizandis rudibus I, 6-8  (CCL 46:124, 126-128); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Wednesrday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time, Year 2.

Augustine of Hippo: When the Lord rose from the dead, he put off the mortality of the flesh Wednesday, May 18 2016 

St Augustine of AfricaI speak to you who have just been reborn in baptism, my little children in Christ.

[…] It is the words of the Apostle that I address to you: Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh and its desires, so that you may be clothed with the life of him whom you have put on in this sacrament.

You have all been clothed with Christ by your baptism in him. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor freeman; there is neither male nor female; you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Such is the power of this sacrament: it is a sacrament of new life which begins here and now with the forgiveness of all past sins, and will be brought to completion in the resurrection of the dead.

You have been buried with Christ by baptism into death in order that, as Christ has risen from the dead, you also may walk in newness of life.

You are walking now by faith, still on pilgrimage in a mortal body away from the Lord; but he to whom your steps are directed is himself the sure and certain way for you: Jesus Christ, who for our sake became man.

For all who fear him he has stored up abundant happiness, which he will reveal to those who hope in him, bringing it to completion when we have attained the reality which even now we possess in hope.

This is the octave day of your new birth. Today is fulfilled in you the sign of faith that was prefigured in the Old Testament by the circumcision of the flesh on the eighth day after birth.

When the Lord rose from the dead, he put off the mortality of the flesh; his risen body was still the same body, but it was no longer subject to death. By his resurrection he consecrated Sunday, or the Lord’s day.

Though the third after his passion, this day is the eighth after the Sabbath, and thus also the first day of the week. And so your own hope of resurrection, though not yet realised, is sure and certain, because you have received the sacrament or sign of this reality, and have been given the pledge of the Spirit.

If, then, you have risen with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your hearts on heavenly things, not the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, your life, appears, then you too will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4).

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Sermon 8 in the Octave of Easter, Office of Readings for Sunday in the second week of Easter @ Universalis.

Augustine of Hippo: “Let me not boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” Wednesday, Mar 23 2016 

St Augustine of AfricaIt is a great thing that we are promised by the Lord, but far greater is what has already been done for us, and which we now commemorate.

Where were the sinners, what were they, when Christ died for them?

When Christ has already given us the gift of his death, who is to doubt that he will give the saints the gift of his own life?

Why does our human frailty hesitate to believe that mankind will one day live with God?

Who is Christ if not the Word of God: in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God?

This Word of God was made flesh and dwelt among us. He had no power of himself to die for us: he had to take from us our mortal flesh.

This was the way in which, though immortal, he was able to die; the way in which he chose to give life to mortal men: he would first share with us, and then enable us to share with him.

Of ourselves we had no power to live, nor did he of himself have the power to die.  In other words, he performed the most wonderful exchange with us. Through us, he died; through him, we shall live.

The death of the Lord our God should not be a cause of shame for us; rather, it should be our greatest hope, our greatest glory. In taking upon himself the death that he found in us, he has most faithfully promised to give us life in him, such as we cannot have of ourselves.

He loved us so much that, sinless himself, he suffered for us sinners the punishment we deserved for our sins.

How then can he fail to give us the reward we deserve for our righteousness, for he is the source of righteousness? How can he, whose promises are true, fail to reward the saints when he bore the punishment of sinners, though without sin himself?

Brethren, let us then fearlessly acknowledge, and even openly proclaim, that Christ was crucified for us; let us confess it, not in fear but in joy, not in shame but in glory.

The apostle Paul saw Christ, and extolled his claim to glory. He had many great and inspired things to say about Christ, but he did not say that he boasted in Christ’s wonderful works: in creating the world, since he was God with the Father, or in ruling the world, though he was also a man like us.

Rather, he said: Let me not boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Sermon Guelf 3 from the Office of Readings, Monday of Holy Week @ Universalis.

Augustine of Hippo: Lent is the epitome of our whole life. Friday, Mar 4 2016 

St Augustine of AfricaAs we begin our annual Lenten observance with its solemn call to conversion, it is incumbent upon me to make the custo­mary solemn exhortation to all of you.

Indeed, it is more than ever my pastoral duty to nourish your minds with the word of God when you are about to mortify your bodies by fasting.

For once you have been inwardly refreshed by the food of the spirit you will be able to undertake physical hardships more coura­geously and endure them with greater stamina.

We are soon to celebrate the Passion of our crucified Lord. It is therefore in keeping with our commitment to him that we should crucify ourselves by restraining the desires of the flesh.

As the Apostle says: You cannot belong to Christ Jesus unless you crucify all your self-indulgent passions and desires.

Such is the Cross upon which we Christians must continually hang, since our whole lives are beset by trials and temptations.

Not for us, as long as we live, to be rid of those nails we read of in the psalm: Pierce my flesh with the nails of your fear.

Flesh means the desires of our lower nature; nails, the demands of God’s justice and holiness. With these the fear of the Lord pierces our flesh and fastens us to the Cross as an acceptable sacrifice to him.

In a similar passage the apostle Paul appeals to us by the mercy of God to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.

To hang on such a Cross brings no shame to the servants of God; it is something in which they glory, as Saint Paul does when he says:

Far be it from me to glory in anything except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

This crucifixion, I repeat, is something that must continue throughout our life, not for forty days only.

It is true that Moses, Elijah, and our Lord himself fasted for forty days; but in Moses, Elijah, and Christ we are meant to see the Law, the Prophets, and the Gospel, and to learn from them not to cling to this present world or imitate its ways, but to nail our unregenerate selves to the Cross.

Christians must always live in this way, without any wish to come down from their Cross, otherwise they will sink beneath the world’s mire.

But if we have to do so all our lives, we must make an even greater effort during these days of Lent. It is not a simple matter of living through forty days; Lent is the epitome of our whole life.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Sermon 205.1 (PL 38:1039-1040); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Sunday of the First Week of Lent, Year 2.

Augustine of Hippo: This is not my prayer, but that of the whole Christ Wednesday, Feb 24 2016 

St Augustine of AfricaLord, I have cried to you, hear me.

This is a prayer we can all say.

This is not my prayer, but that of the whole Christ.

Rather, it is said in the name of his body. When Christ was on earth he prayed in his human nature, and prayed to the Father in the name of his body, and when he prayed drops of blood flowed from his whole body.

So it is written in the Gospel: Jesus prayed with earnest prayer, and sweated blood.

What is this blood streaming from his whole body but the martyrdom of the whole Church?

Lord, I have cried to you, hear me; listen to the sound of my prayer, when I call upon you.

Did you imagine that crying was over when you said: I have cried to you? You have cried out, but do not as yet feel free from care.

If anguish is at an end, crying is at an end; but if the Church, the body of Christ, must suffer anguish until the end of time, it must not say only: I have cried to you, hear me; it must also say: Listen to the sound of my prayer, when I call upon you.

Let my prayer rise like incense in your sight; let the raising of my hands be an evening sacrifice.

This is generally understood of Christ, the head, as every Christian acknowledges.

When day was fading into evening, the Lord laid down his life on the cross, to take it up again; he did not lose his life against his will.

Here, too, we are symbolised. What part of him hung on the cross if not the part he had received from us? How could God the Father ever cast off and abandon his only Son, who is indeed one God with him?

Yet Christ, nailing our weakness to the cross (where, as the Apostle says: Our old nature was nailed to the cross with him), cried out with the very voice of humanity: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

The evening sacrifice is then the passion of the Lord, the cross of the Lord, the oblation of the victim that brings salvation, the holocaust acceptable to God. In his resurrection he made this evening sacrifice a morning sacrifice.

Prayer offered in holiness from a faithful heart rises like incense from a holy altar. Nothing is more fragrant than the fragrance of the Lord. May all who believe share in this fragrance.

Therefore, our old nature in the words of the Apostle, was nailed to the cross with him, in order, as he says, to destroy our sinful body, so that we may be slaves to sin no longer.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): On Psalm 140:4-6 @ Universalis.

Augustine of Hippo: He came to infirm minds, to wounded hearts, to the gaze of dim-eyed souls Wednesday, Dec 9 2015 

St Augustine of AfricaHe was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world (John 1:8-9).

Wherefore then did he [St John the Baptist] come? “But that he might bear witness concerning the light.”

Why so? “That all might believe through him.” And concerning what light was he to bear witness? “That was the true light.”

Wherefore is it added true? Because an enlightened man is also called a light; but the true light is that which enlightens.

For even our eyes are called lights; and nevertheless, unless either during the night a lamp is lighted, or during the day the sun goes forth, these lights are open in vain.

Thus, therefore, John was a light, but not the true light; because, if not enlightened, he would have been darkness; but, by enlightenment, he became a light.

For unless he had been enlightened he would have been darkness, as all those once impious men, to whom, as believers, the apostle said, “Ye were sometimes darkness.”

But now, because they had believed, what?—“but now are ye light,” he says, “in the Lord” (Eph. 5:8).

[…]  And thus “he was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of the light.” But where is that light? “He was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”

If every man that cometh, then also John. The true light, therefore, enlightened him by whom He desired Himself to be pointed out.

Understand, beloved, for He came to infirm minds, to wounded hearts, to the gaze of dim-eyed souls. For this purpose had He come.

And whence was the soul able to see that which perfectly is? Even as it commonly happens, that by means of some illuminated body, the sun, which we cannot see with the eyes, is known to have arisen.

Because even those who have wounded eyes are able to see a wall illuminated and enlightened by the sun, or a mountain, or a tree, or anything of that sort; and, by means of another body illuminated, that arising is shown to those who are not as yet able to gaze on it.

Thus, therefore all those to whom Christ came were not fit to see Him: upon John He shed the beams of His light; and by means of him confessing himself to have been irradiated and enlightened, not claiming to be one who irradiates and enlightens, He is known who enlightens, He is known who illuminates, He is known who fills.

And who is it? “He who lighteth every man,” he says, “who cometh into the world.” For if man had not receded from that light, he would not have required to be illuminated; but for this reason has he to be illuminated here, because he departed from that light by which man might always have been illuminated.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Homilies on St John’s Gospel, Tractate 2, 6-7.

Augustine of Hippo: “And I will give peace in this place” Wednesday, Nov 25 2015 

St Augustine of AfricaThe glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts (Haggai 2:9).

This house of God is more glorious than that first one which was constructed of wood and stone, metals and other precious things.

Therefore the prophecy of Haggai was not fulfilled in the rebuilding of that temple.

For it can never be shown to have had so much glory after it was rebuilt as it had in the time of Solomon;

yea, rather, the glory of that house is shown to have been diminished, first by the ceasing of prophecy, and then by the nation itself suffering so great calamities, even to the final destruction made by the Romans, as the things above-mentioned prove.

But this house which pertains to the new testament is just as much more glorious as the living stones – believing, renewed men – of which it is constructed are better.

But it was typified by the rebuilding of that temple for this reason, because the very renovation of that edifice typifies in the prophetic oracle another testament which is called the new.

When, therefore, God said by the prophet just named “And I will give peace in this place” (Hag. 2:9), He is to be understood who is typified by that typical place.

For since by that rebuilt place is typified the Church which was to be built by Christ, nothing else can be accepted as the meaning of the saying, “I will give peace in this place,” except “I will give peace in the place which that place signifies”.

For all typical things seem in some way to personate those whom they typify, as it is said by the apostle “That Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4; Ex. 17:6).

Therefore the glory of this new testament house is greater than the glory of the old testament house; and it will show itself as greater when it shall be dedicated.

For then “shall come the desired of all nations” (Hag. 2:7), as we read in the Hebrew.  For before His advent He had not yet been desired by all nations.  For they knew not Him whom they ought to desire, in whom they had not believed.

Then, also, according to the Septuagint interpretation (for it also is a prophetic meaning), “shall come those who are elected of the Lord out of all nations.”

For then indeed there shall come only those who are elected, whereof the apostle saith “according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): City of God, 18, 48.

Augustine of Hippo: How shall we act so as not to sin with our tongue? Friday, Oct 16 2015 

St Augustine of AfricaHow shall we act so as not to sin with our tongue?

It is written that death and life are in the power of the tongue, and again: Many have fallen by the edge of the sword, but even more because of the tongue.

The Lord says the same thing: They have taught their tongues to speak lies. They have taught!

You see, the tongue becomes accustomed to telling lies. It tells lies even when you do not want it to.

It is like a wheel: if you spin it once, after that ­initial impetus its own shape and roundness or what you might call its natural instability makes it go on turning.

And it is the same with our tongues: once started they run on of their own accord in the way that is easiest for them.

You have one thing ­in your mind, but sometimes out of habit the tongue choose­s another.

What is to be done? You see what a balanced judgement must be made before the tongue is allowed to say anything!

For it does not in fact wag of its own accord; there is one within who wags it. There is within us a certain power which moves both itself and the members that serve it.

Let the one in control be good and with the help of grace that person can overcome any bad habit whatever. Let the servant be good and the service will be peaceful.

The soldier has weapons but if he does nothing neither do they. So too among our members our tongues are our souls’ weapons.

Scripture calls the tongue a restless evil. O restless member! Who made this evil if not a restless person? Do not be restless yourself and this evil does not exist. Do not set it going and it will do nothing on its own.

It is not a spirit to move of its own accord. It is merely a body and lies still. It will not wag if you do not wag it. When you do use it, be careful how you do so.

[…] What an impious tongue! You have despised the Creator and respected the creature! Oh that restless evil, full of deadly poison! We use it to praise our God and Father – God and also Father, God by nature, Father by grace – then we use it to call down curses on other people made in God’s image.

Be careful, my friends, with what you are carrying about with you. But of course I should say, what we are carrying about with us, for I am a man just as you are.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Sermon 14A.2-3 (CCL 41:219-220); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Saturday of the 28th Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1.

Augustine of Hippo: St Laurence loved Christ in his life he imitated Him in his death Monday, Aug 10 2015 

St Augustine of AfricaThe Roman Church commends this day to us as the blessed Laurence’s day of triumph, on which he trod down the world as it roared and raged against him; spurned it as it coaxed and wheedled him; and in each case, conquered the devil as he persecuted him.

For in that Church, you see, as you have regularly been told, he performed the office of deacon; it was there that he administered the sacred chalice of Christ’s blood; there that he shed his own blood for the name of Christ.

The blessed apostle John clearly explained the mystery of the Lord’s supper when he said Just as Christ laid down his life for us, so we too ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

St Laurence understood this, my brethren, and he did it; and he undoubtedly prepared things similar to what he received at that table. He loved Christ in his life, he imitated him in his death.

And we too, brethren, if we truly love him, let us imitate him. After all, we shall not be able to give a better proof of love than by imitating his example; for Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example, so that we might follow in his footsteps.

In this sentence the apostle Peter appears to have seen that Christ suffered only for those who follow in his footsteps, and that Christ’s passion profits none but those who follow in his footsteps.

The holy martyrs followed him, to the shedding of their blood, to the similarity of their sufferings. The martyrs followed, but they were not the only ones. It is not the case, I mean to say, that after they crossed, the bridge was cut; or that after they had drunk, the fountain dried up.

[…] Let us understand how Christians ought to follow Christ, short of the shedding of blood, short of the danger of suffering death.

The Apostle says, speaking of the Lord Christ, Who, though he was in the form of God, did not think it robbery to be equal to God. What incomparable greatness! But he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and being made in the likeness of men, and found in condition as a man. What unequalled humility!

Christ humbled himself: you have something, Christian, to latch on to. Christ became obedient. Why do you behave proudly? After running the course of these humiliations and laying death low, Christ ascended into heaven: let us follow him there.

Let us listen to the Apostle telling us, If you have risen with Christ, savor the things that are above where Christ is, seated at God’s right hand.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Sermon for the Feast of St. Lawrence (Sermon 304, 1-4, PL 38, 1395-1397) @ Crossroads Initiative.

Augustine of Hippo: “The way of the ungodly shall perish” Friday, Jul 31 2015 

St Augustine of AfricaOn Psalm 1.

“The ungodly are not so, they are not so, but are like the dust which the wind casteth forth from the face of the earth” (ver. 4).

“The earth” is here to be taken as that stedfastness in God, with a view to which it is said, “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance, yea, I have a goodly heritage” (Ps. 15:5-6).

With a view to this it is said, “Wait on the Lord and keep His ways, and He shall exalt thee to inherit the earth” (Ps. 36:34).

With a view to this it is also said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).

A comparison too is derived hence, for as this visible earth supports and contains the outer man, so that earth invisible the inner man.

“From the face of which earth the wind casteth forth the ungodly,” that is, pride, in that it puffs him up.

On his guard against this he, who was inebriated by the richness of the house of the Lord, and drunken of the torrent stream of its pleasures, says, “Let not the foot of pride come against me” (Ps. 35:11).

From this earth pride cast forth him who said, “I will place my seat in the north, and I will be like the Most High” (Isa. 14:13-14).

From the face of the earth it cast forth him also who, after that he had consented and tasted of the forbidden tree that he might be as God, hid himself from the Face of God (Gen. 3:8).

[…] “For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous” (ver. 6).

As it is said, medicine knows health, but knows not disease, and yet disease is recognised by the art of medicine.

In like manner can it be said that “the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous,” but the way of the ungodly He knoweth not.

Not that the Lord is ignorant of anything, and yet He says to sinners, “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23).  “But the way of the ungodly shall perish” is the same as if it were said, the way of the ungodly the Lord knoweth not.

We can express this more plainly by saying that not to be known of the Lord means the same as to perish, and to be known of the Lord means the same as to abide.

Thus to be belongs to God’s knowing, but not to be to His not knowing. For the Lord says, “I Am that I Am,” and, “I Am hath sent me” (Ex. 3:14).

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Exposition of the Book of Psalms, Psalm 1, 4,6 (slightly adapted).  

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