Tag Archives: St Augustine

St Augustine of Hippo

On the contribution of St. Augustine to the spiritual and intellectual history of the West, the great Yale patristic scholar Jaroslav Pelikan said:

In Augustine of Hippo Western Christianity found its most influential spokesman, and the doctrine of grace its most articulate interpreter. It has been said that although he may not have been the greatest of Latin writers, he was almost certainly the greatest man who ever wrote Latin. In any history of philosophy he must figure prominently; no history of post-classical Latin literature would be complete without a chapter on him; and there is probably no Christian theologian — Eastern or Western, ancient or medieval or modern, heretical or orthodox — whose historical influence can match his. Any theologian who would have written the Confessions or the City of God or On the Trinity would have to be counted a major figure in intellectual history. Augustine wrote them all, and vastly more. He was a universal genius.

In Christ we overcame the devil

In this First Week of Lent St Augustine gives us something worthy for our reflection: In Christ we suffered temptation, and in him we overcame the devil.

Hear, O God, my petition, listen to my prayer. Who is speaking? An individual, it seems. See if it is an individual: I cried to you from the ends of the earth while my heart was in anguish. Now it is no longer one person; rather, it is one in the sense that Christ is one, and we are all his members. What single individual can cry from the ends of the earth? The one who cries from the ends of the earth is none other than the Son’s inheritance. It was said to him: Ask of me, and I shall give you the nations as your inheritance, and the ends of the earth as your possession. This possession of Christ, this inheritance of Christ, this body of Christ, this one Church of Christ, this unity that we are, cries from the ends of the earth. What does it cry? What I said before: Hear, O God, my petition, listen to my prayer; I cried out to you from the ends of the earth. That is, I made this cry to you from the ends of the earth; that is, on all sides.

Why did I make this cry? While my heart was in anguish. The speaker shows that he is present among all the nations of the earth in a condition, not of exalted glory but of severe trial.

Our pilgrimage on earth cannot be exempt from trial. We progress by means of trial. No one knows himself except through trial, or receives a crown except after victory, or strives except against an enemy or temptations.

The one who cries from the ends of the earth is in anguish, but is not left on his own. Christ chose to foreshadow us, who are his body, by means of his body, in which he has died, risen and ascended into heaven, so that the members of his body may hope to follow where their head has gone before.

He made us one with him when he chose to be tempted by Satan. We have heard in the gospel how the Lord Jesus Christ was tempted by the devil in the wilderness. Certainly Christ was tempted by the devil. In Christ you were tempted, for Christ received his flesh from your nature, but by his own power gained life for you; he suffered insults in your nature, but by his own power gained glory for you; therefore, he suffered temptation in your nature, but by his own power gained victory for you.

If in Christ we have been tempted, in him we overcame the devil. Do you think only of Christ’s temptations and fail to think of his victory? See yourself as tempted in him, and see yourself as victorious in him. He could have kept the devil from himself; but if he were not tempted he could not teach you how to triumph over temptation.

From a commentary on the psalms by Saint Augustine, bishop
(Ps. 60, 2-3: CCL 39, 766)

Celebrating Thanksgiving today 2017

Celebrating this day of Thanksgiving with loved ones and friends, I thought this morning at Divine Liturgy that what is crucial is diving into what really matters, what we’ve been given by the Lord —the most holy of giving thanks. It is the Holy Eucharist, instituted by the Lord Jesus “on the night he was betrayed and entered willingly into his passion.”

Here we see the root of our life: The Lord in His Life-Giving sacrifice shows us the relationship between His infinite mercy, justice and His love. We participate in Lord’s kenosis inviting us to assent to deification in the Life of the Trinity in a synergistic way. This is our sacred, divine Liturgy.

“I give thanks to you, my sweetness, my honor,
my confidence;
to you, my God, I give thanks for your gifts.
Do you preserve them for me.
So will you preserve me too,
and what you have given me will grow and reach perfection,
and I will be with you; because this too is your gift to me
—that I exist.”

-Saint Augustine, Confessions

St Augustine of Hippo

Augustine of Hippo was an early Christian theologian and philosopher whose writings influenced the development of Western Christianity and Western philosophy.

Aurelius Augustinus was born in 354 in Tagaste (modern-day Souk Ahras, Algeria) to a Christian mother and a pagan father, raised in Roman north Africa, educated in Carthage, and employed as a professor of rhetoric in Milan by 383. He followed the Manichaean religion in his student days, and was converted to Christianity by the preaching and example of Ambrose of Milan. He was baptized at Pascha in 387, and returned to north Africa and created a monastic foundation at Tagaste for himself and a group of friends. In 391 he was ordained a priest in Hippo Regius (now Annaba, in Algeria). He became a famous preacher (more than 350 preserved sermons are believed to be authentic), and was noted for combatting the Manichaean heresy.

In 396 he was made coadjutor bishop of Hippo (assistant with the right of succession on the death of the current bishop), and remained as bishop in Hippo until his death in 430. He left his monastery, but continued to lead a monastic life in the episcopal residence. He left a Rule (Regula in Latin) for his monastery that has led him to be designated the “patron saint of Regular Clergy,” that is, parish clergy who live by a monastic rule.

Augustine died on August 28, 430, during the siege of Hippo by the Vandals. He is said to have encouraged its citizens to resist the attacks, primarily on the grounds that the Vandals adhered to heretical Arian Christianity. (NS)

Only the Lord can help

Today, on the 19th Sunday through the Church Year, we hear the gospel reading where Jesus walks on the water. We are moving through the summer…and what the Church gives to us to meditate upon is keen these days.

St. Augustine reminds us, “If you feel your foot slipping beneath you, if you become a prey to doubt or realise that you are losing control, if, in a word, you begin to sink, say: Lord, I am drowning, save me! Only he who for your sake died in your fallen nature can save you from the death inherent in that fallen nature.”

Jesus, I trust in you.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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