Tag Archives: St Augustine

Pope lunches with friends, speaks of struggle against evil

At Monday’s lunch with many of the cardinals –not all–Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the struggle he and they are engaged together: for good against evil. Not exactly a lite topic for discussion for a lunch celebrating one’s 85th birthday and 7th anniversary of election to the Chair of Saint Peter, but a point that is true and needs to be addressed.

In reading his text (below) you will notice the Pope’s use of the concept ecclesia militans – the Church Militant – which he admits is “old fashion” but still fitting today. When we say “the Church Militant” it means all living Christians who struggle against sin, the devil, or as the Apostle Paul says  “..the rulers of the darkness of this world” and “spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

“Church Militant” has two other sisters, “Church Triumphant” and “Church Suffering” that give context to Christian life in light of the doctrine of the Communion of Saints and of what we know the Church to be.

The quick definition of the “Church Triumphant” (Ecclesia Triumphans), indicates those who live in the beatific vision, they see and are seen by God; we say these people are in heaven. The feast day for those in heaven is November 1, All Saints Day.  When we speak of the “Church Suffering” (also called the Church Penitent, Ecclesia Penitens; or Church Expectant, Ecclesia Expectans), we believe that this group of believers are the souls in purgatory. The feast day is  All Souls, November 2.

Read more ...

In the soil of our heart God first planted the root of love for him

Today, the Holy Father announced his Good Shepherd Sunday missive on vocations. Singed on 18 October 2011, Benedict wrote this letter for the 49th World Day of Prayer for Vocations that’s celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday. The Pope’s message is exactly what I was trying to teach to the RCIA people yesterday: God’s love is total and our love for Him needs to be an icon –that is, mirrored– to the world. His theme this year is: Vocations, the Gift of the Love of God. A few paragraphs of the text follow:

Good Shepherd icon.jpg

In a famous page of the Confessions, Saint Augustine
expresses with great force his discovery of God, supreme beauty and supreme
love, a God who was always close to him, and to whom he at last opened his mind
and heart to be transformed: “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever
ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was
outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged
into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with
you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they
would have not been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my
deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed
your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted
you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your
peace.” (X, 27.38). With these images, the Saint of Hippo seeks to
describe the ineffable mystery of his encounter with God, with God’s love that
transforms all of life.

Read more ...

Chaput gives witness to the vocation of bishop

Charles J Chaput coat of arms.jpg

Yesterday’s installation of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput as the new Archbishop of Philadelphia was beautiful on all avenues: music, word, gersture. One of many beautiful parts of his homily was on the ministry (vocation) of the bishop. For that part he quoted the great bishop and Doctor of the Church, Saint Augustine of Hippo. You may think I am cynical by saying this, but I wonder sometimes how often our bishops live up to their vocation as the Church has expected and how often they reflect on the words of a brother such as the eminent Augustine. Perhaps not often enough. AND that is likely the reason Archbishop Charles mention the vocation his homily.

What follows is a terrfic teaching on this vitally vigorous vocation of the Church.

Thanks be to God for the Archbishop!

St. Augustine of Hippo, speaking in the 4th century captured the role of the bishop in these words: 

“Jerusalem had watchmen who stood guard . . . And this is what bishops do. Now, bishops are assigned this higher place” — the bishop’s chair in the basilica -“so that they themselves may oversee and, as it were, keep watch over the people. For they are called episkopos in Greek, which means ‘overseer,’ because the bishop oversees; because he looks down from [his chair] . . . And on account of this high place, a perilous accounting will have to be rendered [by the bishop] – unless we stand here with a heart such that we place ourselves beneath your feet in humility.”

bishops ceremonial dress.jpg

Another time, on the anniversary of his episcopal ordination, Augustine described the bishop’s duties in the following way: 

“To rebuke those who stir up strife, to comfort those of little courage, to take the part of the weak, to refute opponents, to be on guard against traps, to teach the ignorant, to shake the indolent awake, to discourage those who want to buy and sell, to put the presumptuous in their place, to modify the quarrelsome, to help the poor, to liberate the oppressed, to encourage the good, to suffer the evil and to love all men.”

It’s crucial for those of us who are bishops not simply to look like bishops but to truly be bishops. Otherwise, we’re just empty husks — the kind of men Augustine meant when he said, 

“You say, ‘He must be a bishop for he sits upon the cathedra.’ True – and a scarecrow might also be called a watchman in the vineyard.”

Fraternal love and correction essential, Pope reminds

Christ washing the feet Tintoretto.jpgOne of the themes from Oblate retreat this past weekend was humility. And from within the Gospel and Saint Benedict’s vision of humility Brother John Mark spoke about love and fraternal relations, particularly rubbing elbows in true charity with your brother and sister in community. A stone is only polished when it meets other stones.

Pope Benedict brings up the human desire to be in community with other other people: how good it is for brothers and sisters to live in unity, St Paul says. But this unity and love have one condition: “You will love your neighbor as yourself” (Romans 13:8-10). Some take this point as an easy thing to do. I assure you, it is not. This past Sunday’s Scripture readings teach this point.
In his Rule, Saint Benedict places a strong emphasis on mutual responsibility (“a reciporcal responsibility” the Pope calls it) and charity toward the other person is lived only in a personal way. Benedict XVI argues as Saint Benedict did before him, “that there is a co-responsibility in the journey of the Christian life: everyone, conscious of his own limits and defects, is called to welcome fraternal correction and to help others with this particular service [of forgiveness and healing injuries].

Read more ...

Saint Augustine of Hippo

St Augustine caravaggio.jpgChrist humbled himself, you have something, Christian,
to latch onto. Christ became obedient. Why do you behave proudly? 


When you read what the Pope has to say about Saint Augustine, you can tell that he really loves and knows Saint Augustine…as we all ought. He’s given us a lot to think about using Augustine’s thinking. Here’s the 2008 discourse of the Pope on the saintly Bishop of Hippo.

Given what is said above, pay close attention to the second half of the Pope’s talk.

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.
coat of arms



Humanities Blog Directory