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A day includes its night

My mouth will proclaim your righteousness, all the day your salvation. What does your salvation mean? That" salvation is the Lords" (Ps 3:9). No one should claim that he has saved himself: salvation is the Lords.... Vain is the salvation of man (Ps 59:13). All the day your salvation means all the time. Are you experiencing adversity? Proclaim the Lords salvation. Are you experiencing prosperity? Proclaim the Lords salvation. Dont proclaim in prosperity and be silent in adversity. If you do, youll not be doing what is said: all the day. ... The whole day, then, with its night; night serves day not day night. Whatever you do in this mortal life ought to serve righteousness; whatever you do at Gods command ought not be done for fleshly gain; if it were, day would be serving night. Speak Gods praise all day, then, in prosperity and in adversity: in prosperity as if it were daytime, in adversity as if it were nighttime. Speak Gods praise all the day so that you wont have sung in vain: I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise ever in my mouth (Ps 33:2). Weve praised God in the day. Shall we fail to do so in the night? All the day, that is, along with its night, your salvation. (EnPs 70/1, 16; PL 36, 885-886)Later in the same sermon, Augustine has the Church speak the Psalms sentiment:Let my mouth be filled with praise that I may speak your glory, your greatness all the day (Ps 70: 8). What does all the day mean? Without interruption. In prosperity because you give me comfort, Lord. In adversity, because you are correcting me. Before I existed, because you made me; while I existed, because you gave me health; when I sinned, because you forgave me; when I was turned around, because you aided me; when I shall have persevered, because you crowned me. Thus let my mouth be completely filled with praise that I may speak your glory, your greatness all the day. (EnPs 70, 10; PL 36, 881)


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St. Augustine was a great influence on Wittgenstein, the great philosopher of language. This passage show, I think, how much they shared that you don't find in earlier theorists of language.First off the bat, Austustine asks, " What does your salvation mean?', a beginning which is also typical of Witt. He goes on at some length about that, but not giving a definition of salvation but giving instances of many different contexts its applied to. Then he zeroes in on another small part of the sentence, "all the day" and does a litany of uses for that phrase.For both Augusting and Witt., the richness, the values of language is found embedded in the particulars of the many meanings and uses even of single words and phrases, not in the vast generalizations of logic and science. The generalizations are imortant, and some of us love them, but they are not the beginning of wisdom.

Interesting that Augustine sees adversity as a correction, somehow deserved and intended as a message to him, personally. Yet surely this is not always so.

Have psychoanalytic studies of Augustine ever been done by any great psychiatrists? He's a fascinating man for many reasons, and no doubt one of the very wisest of the Fathers. But sometimes he says surprising things, such as the text in the thread above that sees God's world as bad and this one which, as Susan points out, seems to say that adversity rightly produces punishment.Sometimes he seems rather masochistic to me and even a touch paranoid. This doesn't of course stop him from being a very great saint, but I don't think it helps his philosophy.

I'm sure there must be some psychoanalytical studies--he certainly left enough for review in his Confessions. But I would take exception to your characterization, Ann. I indicated that he was quite well aware of various meanings of the word "world" in the Scriptures and used them himself, and in the text I cite he does not say that "God's world" is bad. In fact, I could cite you many a passage in which he insists, and not only against the Manichees, that God's world is good. And he doesn't say that "adversity rightly produces punishment"; the word he uses is "correct," and correction need not be by means of punishment.

JAK --No doubt he has different meanings of "the world". But when he says in the other text you quoted: " For one cannot love what is eternal unless one stops loving what is temporal.' That seems to be a pretty damning statement of the value of the world in *any* sense. We know that before he was Christian he was Manicheean, and subscribed to the notion that the world is basically the product of an evil God. He was also highly Platonic, and though Plato wasn't as bad as the Manichees, he too had a very low estimation of this world. What I'm saying is that from what I've read of him Augustine's basic attitude towards the world seems to be that it is at best a distraction and often an evil one. And, yes, I think this view has had a bad effect on Western Christian culture, especially among the Calvinists who, so far as I can see, were even worse than Augustine about this, though I think negativity towards "the world" is too strong in Catholicism as well.If there are any passages where he waxes poetic about the intrinsic goodness of the world, I would really like to read them. I really am a fan of his, but there is this element in him that is not just off-putting, but unChristian, I think.

JAK --Thank you very much for the texts by Augustine on the goodness of creation. Beautiful.But we're still left with the problelm of our relationship to those beauties/goods, . He seems to think that without the grace of God we are quite helpless before such temptations. I guess this boils down to Original Sin and how much damage it did to human nature and also how the damage happened (in Adam's fall, literally?) As I remember Augustine said that our nature was "wounded" ("vulnerata") while Luther said it was totally corrupted ("vitiata"). Just how severely wounded was it according to A.? I still think he had a particularly grim view of human nature as it is without the grace of God.

I still think he had a particularly grim view of human nature as it is without the grace of God.But isn't that correct? Everything that's good comes from God.

Claire --When you say 'isn't THAT correct", what are you referring to? Human nature are grim or human nature as good? Or what?

Isn't it correct to say that "human nature as it is without the grace of God" is pretty grim? Take human nature, remove everything that comes from God, and look at what's left over isn't that like the gross mushy stuff at the bottom of a press?

But I suppose I'm oversimplifying.

Among the biblical texts most frequently quoted by Augustine are: 1 Cor 4:7: "What have you that you have not received? And if you received it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?"Ph 2:12-13: "With fear and trembling work out your salvation, for it is God who works in you both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will."Augustine did not distinguish as clearly and consistently as scholastics would later do between nature and grace, and the word "supernatural" was not part of his vocabulary. Both nature and grace were gifts, which was the most important thing to say about both of them, more important than distinguishing them technically. The slightest move of a sinner toward God was already God's gift. In one place, commenting on the De profundis, he said that to cry out from the depths was already to be rising from the deepest depths; it was already God's gift to know that one is in the depths and to cry out from there. Deepest in the depths, he said, are people who don't know they're in the depths.

Thanks, JAK. I keep forgetting that Augustine was not an heir to Aristotle's logic and the great development of logic in the Middle Ages. He just wasn't part of that highly technical age that valued precision highly.My concern with the question of human nature before and after the Fall (whatever "the Fall" means) is that I think that the common Enlightenment notion (see. for instance, Rousseau) that people are naturally good to start with and just need kindly education to make them virtuous adults is still very much part of the American educational establishment, as well as being extremely common in the liberal establishment. It goes even past the I'm OK, you're OK syndrome. But the Christian position is that we are not naturally good, that we need extra help (the grace of God) to become good people. Then the question becomes: how bad are we? And then the theological fireworks start. On the other hand, I think that American psychology, being empirical, also does not assume that we're good to start with. It presents a complex outlook: we are good in some ways, bad in others, people differ individually also, and our virtuous behavior is also dependent on outside causes as well. This variability of individual inclination to evil is, I think, a very important insight. To assume that we are all equally inclined to evil, as the Calvinists and Janssenists seem to assume, goes against the facts. Yes, there are people who are criminally inclined, but there are slso people who are not extremely inclined to awful behavior, and, I think, they often turn against the dogma of Original Sin and the need for a lot of self-discipline, if not penance.In other words, an exaggerated Christian view of the Fall works against not just the Faith but against the findings of empirical psychology. It drives away some people who would otherwise have been believers. So I think the theologians need to work on this issue and formulate clearer teachings that don't turn some people off unnecessarily.


About the Author

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.