Archive for category Augustiniana

The Pope’s Message for World Day of the Sick 2012

The Pope’s message for this year’s World Day of Peace (February 11, 2012) is available at the Vatican website. For those who do not like the image background of the website and prefer the text on a white background, a copy is found here. Below is an outline of the said message:

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Augustine, Augustinian, Augustiniana

St. Augustine of Hippo

St. Augustine of Hippo

The Mystical Geek has lately become the place where I post quick articles on Augustinian topics. I have made a list of these articles until August 2009 in an article called For the Feast of St. Augustine. Read the rest of this entry »

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Aumann on Augustine’s Theology of Ministry

Jordan Aumann, OP, a long time professor of theology at the University of Sto. Tomas Manila has an article online entitled “Augustine’s Theology of Ministry.1 He discusses Augustine’s idea of his own presbyteral ministry and reflects on the possibility of a ministry of the laity based on the following quotation from Sermon 46

There are many who, as Christians and not leaders, attain to God, traveling maybe an easier road, and the more speedily, perhaps, the lighter the load they carry. But I, besides being a Christian, and for this having to render an account of my life, am a leader also, and for this shall render to God an account of my ministry.

Fr. Aumann writes

Holy bishop that he was, Augustine had a loving concern for the laity as well as for priests and religious. In view of the Synod on the laity, held in Rome in October, 1987, it is interesting to note how closely Augustine’s ideas run parallel to those of Vatican Council II. One passage from his commentary on John’s Gospel will serve our purpose.

When you hear the Lord saying: “Where I am, my servant also will be” (Jn 12:26), you are not to think merely of good bishops and clerics. Be yourselves also, in your own way, ministers of Christ by the goodness of your lives, by giving alms, by preaching his name and doctrine to the extent that this is possible for you.

Let every father of a family likewise acknowledge in Christ’s name the affection he owes his family as a parent. For the sake of Christ and for the sake of eternal life, let him admonish, teach, encourage, correct and show kindness to all his household. In his own home he will be filling an ecclesiastical role and, if you will, the duty of a bishop, ministering to Christ so as to be with him forever.

More here.

  1. This article was originally posted on March 8, 2006.

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Mother and Son

August 27 and 28 are the feast days of St. Monica and St. Augustine, perhaps the two most well-known mother and son saints in the Catholic Church.  The image above is a depiction of a scene from the Confessions where Augustine describes a moment with his mom as they wait for the boat that will bring them back to North Africa from his Italian sojourn.  He has just been baptized and she is just content that her prayers for her son have been granted.  The painter’s brush captures them at the moment when — as Augustine narrates — they have a foretaste of the blessed life.  The description of the experience is found in the Confessions IX, 10.

Here are some more posts about the two saints above:

Posts about groups devoted to St. Monica:

All the above links lead to the Mystical Geek.


On Christmas Day

Augustine’s Sermon 185 which is entitled “On Christmas Day” in the Patrologia Latina, is a sermon preached by Augustine where he describes the grace of the Birthday of the Lord

What greater grace could have shone upon us from God, than that having his only-begotten Son he should make him a Son of man, and thus in exchange make the Son of man into the Son of God? Look for merit there, look for a cause, look for justice; and see whether you can find anything but grace.

This year, this Sermon comes alive once more to us as Pope Benedict uses a line from it as his Christmas greeting: Wake up, mankind; for you God became man. And Augustine continues…

…Rise you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you (Eph. 5:14). For you, I repeat, God became man. You would have died for eternity unless he had been born in time. You would never be set free from the flesh of sin, unless he had taken to himself the likeness of the flesh of sin (Rom. 8:3). You would have been in the grip of everlasting misery, had it not been for the occurrence of this great mercy. You would not have come back to life, unless he had adjusted himself to your death. You would have faded away, if he had not come to the rescue. You would have perished, if he had not come.

The Sermon is composed of three numbered paragraphs and structured by Augustine’s meditation on Psalm 85:11. “Truth has sprung from the earth and Justice looked down from heaven.” “Truth has sprung from the earth” is explained in paragraph 1, while “Justice looked down from heaven” is elaborated in paragraph 2. Finally, Augustine points out how Psalm 85:11 becomes a sort of commentary on Romans 5:1-2, a Pauline passage that tells how man has gained outright access to God through justification in Christ. This short meditation is then connected to the song of the angels in Luke 2:14: “Glory to God in the Highest and peace on earth to all men of goodwill”.

This Sermon is meditative, not argumentative (e.g. Sermon 186 where Augustine seems to be arguing against the Arians) and is best read in the light of Augustine’s Ennarations on Psalm 85. The present Sermon actually underlines Augustine’s Christological understanding of the Psalm.

One unfamiliar with Augustine’s Church and world might as well ask: “What is the value of this Sermon for a time like ours?” My answer will be that at a time when consumerism has taken over “the Christmas spirit” and human diginity has been reduced to what one has and does, then it is well to look at the real meaning of Christmas. Christmas is, as Augustine says, “Truth has sprung from the earth, and Justice has looked down from heaven.” Christ, the Word of God made flesh is the ultimate Truth about God and man. In Him God is known, and through Him man is revealed to Himself. You look for the dignity of man? Look for it in Christ! You want to know why man has this dignity? Look for it in Christ. “Justice has looked down from heaven” Man does not have anything of himself that has not been given from above. The value of man derives directly from God who created and saved Him, and not from any of his works or from anything he has acquired. Christmas is not just a holiday season where we can feel good. Christmas is the event that reveals our value by the one who has loved us. “God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son.” (Jn. 3:15) And it is an event that is re-called
and re-presented so that we will never forget how we are known from all eternity.

With St. Augustine, and with Pope Benedict XVI, I greet you “Merry Christmas.”

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Revisiting Ten Augustinian Values

Before we proceed with our review of the Ten Augustinian Values, I would like to present a diagram first. Pictures say a lot of things and I think that it would be appropriate to show the ten Augustinian Values not disjointedly as if were simply enumerating a list of groceries, but as a whole and within a dynamic process that I describe as “the verification of Love”, or “making Love authentic.”

All of Augustine’s sermons about Love assume that Love is being authenticated by his hearers in their own lives. Concupiscence and Ignorance has weakened the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. While the sin of those two parents have been obliterated by the sacrament of baptism, the “dent” created by that sin remains. Hence, there is — in every kind of spiritual journey — the element of “discipline”, of “making-authentic”. The same goes for man’s highest calling: Love

Ten Augustinain Values:  A Diagram
The ten Augustinian Values in process. Click the image above for a clearer view.

The Ten Augustinian Values are values which help one make one’s love authentic. The “disciplinary values” of Humility, Inwardness, and “Devotion to Study and the Pursuit of Wisdom” help form the baptized in Freedom, which is the power by which Love is given expression. True freedom is the investment of self in another. Such an investment is made in Community (this is inescapable since man is a social being) in the realization of a Common Good (in Augustine, the “Common Good” is ultimately, also the “Supreme Good”1). That community, however, is no ordinary community, since it is that community whose members Christ calls his friends and to whom He has given the example of what it is to be “great”: “whoever wants to be the greatest among you must be the least.”. The kind of investment in which Freedom truly flowers is made in the Spirit of John’s account of the Last Supper. Freedom surrenders itself in Service, within the context of Friendship (again in the sense that the Gospel of John gives it). And because “friendship” is not just any kind of friendship but the friendship of those whom Christ has called “friends”, then it cannot but be nourished by prayer and made to grow in it.

1The Catechism’s definition of Common Good is one made within the context of praxis. If I understand Augustine rightly, such an idea for him would be an aspect of the Supreme Good that in Pauline terms gives the gift of Himself to end all gifts: “God … in everything.”

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Augustine and Love

Francisco Benzoni has an article entitled “An Augustinian Understanding of Love in an Ecological Context.” This is the way he describes his procedure…

I show how Augustine’s analysis of fundamental human loves provides insight into some of the anthropological determinants of ecological degradation. This discussion is framed by Augustine’s distinction between caritas, as seeking one’s final end in God, and cupiditas, as seeking one’s final end in that which is other than God. I argue that different forms of cupiditas can be discerned in ecologically destructive consumption habits and in seeking to control the natural world.

The distinction between caritas and cupiditas alongside the well-known distinction between uti and frui is interesting.

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Why Augustine is Unknown in the Philippines

The following article is an excerpt from an introduction to a biography of St. Augustine that the Religious Education Department of the Colegio San Agustin-Bacolod published for its students and teachers sometime in the year 2002. It was originally published at Ang Frayle but because of the changes in the site, this article was somehow forgotten. The article tries to answer the question “If Augustine is so well known in the Church, why is it that he isn’t well known in the Philippines?” The image of the saint is clickable, too. It will bring you to the Augustine Page1 which has excerpts of two papal documents on St. Augustine.

Whenever preachers would like to give an example of a wayward young man who later on changed his life to become a saint, they usually pick Augustine of Hippo, the playboy – they say — who became a saint. In circles where research is hallowed and philosophy, theology and the history of knowledge are the main agenda, Augustine of Hippo rises up as one of the greatest intellectual forces that has shaped the way men and women have thought from the Middle Ages until now. In places where silence and contemplation are regarded as an adventure into the depths of being, Augustine of Hippo is the guide, the master of Interiority. St. Augustine should not need any introduction, but the quirks of history has been such that even in the Philippines, where the first steps to Christianity were guided by the Augustinians, many do not know him.

The Filipino Church does not not know much of Augustine of Hippo except in areas where his memory is kept alive. Christianization in the Philippines was carried out under the influence of the Council of Trent — the Council which set forward the systematized theology of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Catholic Catechism of St. Charles Borromeo as quasi official expressions of its doctrine. St. Augustine, because he was being claimed as an inspiration by the leaders of the Lutheran revolt, was in a way set aside by Catholicism and replaced by thinkers that Protestants cannot claim as their own. This trend continued under Vatican I. The Church was still defending itself philosophically and theologically at this point against rationalists, fideists and modernists and it wanted guides that the opposition cannot put up as their own. The universal appeal of Augustine addressed itself even to those who were unorthodox in the eyes of the Church. The First Plenary Council of the Philippines was held under the shadow of Vatican I. If nothing of Augustine is echoed in the documents of the Council, it is due more to the spirit of the times rather than to Augustine himself. The friars themselves who evangelized here in the early years of Christianity in these islands (16thc.) were thinking in the lines of the Tridentine reform.

Vatican II gave back St. Augustine to the Church. The two most significant Popes of the Vatican II era, Paul VI and John Paul II, have on many occasions pointed to the significance of Augustine’s thought and spirituality and his relevance for the modern man. Even scholars non-sympathetic to Augustine are now finding out, sometimes to their dismay, how much of Western thought and Catholic doctrine owes itself to the Bishop of Hippo. It is also at this time that the Order of St. Augustine, to some extent alienated to its tradition due to the reforms made in Trent (remember that the man that occasioned the strong pronouncements of Trent was Martin Luther, an Augustinian friar before he broke up with the Church), rediscovered its heritage through Vatican II. Indeed, when the Church looked to the future and asked herself how she would be for the men and women of the Third Millenium, she turned her gaze to that moment when she was still young, vibrant, daring and creative. She looked back to the time of the Fathers of the Church and found there the kind of Church she was when she was yet untrammeled by too many political undertakings, when she was still in a way, small. And from among the Fathers, she chose the language and the insight of St. Augustine in expressing many of the things she wanted to say, making the Bishop of Hippo, representative spokesman of the Fathers in many of her documents. When John Paul II published the new Catholic Catechism, the voice of Augustine continues to be heard. In fact, even in the new Catechism, he is the most quoted Father of the Church. Truly, this renewed interest in St. Augustine is merited, for he someone has rightly concluded is the first Modern man. At a time when people are rediscovering the emptiness of a fast and a highly technological existence, they are becoming more and more aware of the human heart’s desire for inwardness and transcendence. To these men and women, the Church once more presents the one who has expressed in unforgettable language the stirrings of the human heart: “Our hearts were made for thee O God, and they are restless until they rest in Thee.”

  1. With the recent closing of Geocities, this website is no longer available.