Tag Archives: St Augustine

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.

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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.”

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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].

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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? 


Saint
Augustine

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.

World Youth Day participants to consecrate themselves to the Sacred Heart

As Catholic grammar school student I was introduced to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by the Nazareth sisters. Everyday we said a prayer to the Sacred Heart and we did the Litany to the Sacred Heart yearly in church. To me it was normal; the image of the heart outside the body was at first weird but in became indicative. Over time I realized that others had no idea of God’s unconditional love. My devotion to the Sacred Heart grew as time went on; my religious practice was helped by reading a bit of history and my friend Dom Ambrose who wrote his license thesis on St Gertrude’s teaching of the Sacred Heart.  Also, that first Friday devotion of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, like many, would relish in observing the First Friday with Mass, and hopefully confession if I could find a priest. The organizers of the World Youth Day captured part of Spanish religious and civil history by making a connection with proposing an Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus to all the participants. What a great idea!!! This is a yet another concrete way to be “planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith.” What follows is merely an interesting paragraph from the catechesis prepared for the WYD; you can read the preparatory Catechesis here. Today, and certainly during the WYD, make an offering of yourself to your Lord and Savior.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, King.jpgThis search of man’s heart ends when one discovers God’s Heart. On this topic, St. Augustine says: “You made us for yourself, Oh God, and our heart is restless until it rests in you”. The concern to which St. Augustine refers is the difficulty we all have in attaining true Love as a consequence of our condition of creatures; we are finite; moreover, we are sinners. Over and over again we run into the difficulty of our selfishness, the chaos of our passions, that throws away this true Love. Man’s heart “needs” a heart at his same level, a heart that can enter into his history, and, on the other hand, an “all-powerful” heart that can take him out of his limitations and sins. We can say that In Jesus Christ, God has met mankind and has loved us with a “human heart”. In the encounter of man’s heart with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the mystery of salvation becomes real. “In fact, from the infinite horizon of his love, God wished to enter into the limits of human history and the human condition. He took on a body and a heart. Thus, we can contemplate and encounter the infinite in the finite, the invisible and ineffable Mystery in the human Heart of Jesus, the Nazarene” (Benedict XVI, Angelus, 1/VI/2008)

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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