Augustinian gems

Today is the feast of St. Augustine. One of the most exciting developments in study of the great bishop is the attention being given to his sermons often comparatively neglected in favor of his great works. (A new translation of all of them is being prepared.) Most of them werenot written out in advance and they have a freshness about them and often show him inter-acting with his congregation. Here are a few gems I have discovered over the past few years (translations mine).

[Of Christ] Life came down in order to die; bread came down in order to hunger; the way came down in order to be wearied on the journey; the spring came down in order to thirst.

[In an exhortation to prayer] Human laziness should blush with shame: God is more willing to give than we are to receive; he is more willing to show us mercy than we are to be freed of our miseries.

[Commenting on the words of the Psalm: "Magnify the Lord with me"] I dont want to magnify the Lord alone. I dont want to love him alone. I dont want to embrace him alone.

[Commenting on the Psalm verse: "Better is a single day in your courts than thousands of days"] Men desire thousands of days and greatly wish to live here. They should scorn the thousands of days; they should desire the single day, the day that has no sunrise and sunset, the single day, the eternal day, to which yesterday did not yield and which tomorrow does not press. We should desire that single day. What do we have to do with thousands of days? We are going from thousands of days to a single day.

[Of God]: Seeking, although lacking nothing.

He sought those who were not seeking him.

To a joyful person even a prison is wide, and to a sad person even a meadow is narrow.

Your soul will not die unless you choose to kill it.

Dont think that heresies can be created by small minds. Only great men make heresies.

You are more inward than my inward self. Within, in my heart, you have written a law by your Spirit, as if by your finger, so that I would no longer fear it like a slave without love, but would like a son love it with a chaste fear and fear it with a chaste love.

Grace achieves this: that commandments are kept out of love that could not be kept out of fear.

Every love has its own power. Love cannot be idle in the heart of a lover: it has to lead somewhere. Do you want to know what kind of love it is? See where it is leading.

Nothing is more difficult and nothing more admirable than loving ones enemies.

It is no small insight to know from whom to seek insight.

Dont be today what you were yesterday, and dont be tomorrow what you are today.

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.

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