Posts Tagged Augustine

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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A Note on Augustinian Spirituality

IgnatiusInsight offers an article called “The Scriptural Roots of St. Augustine’s Spirituality” written originally for Catholic Faith magazine (January-February 2000). The author of the article is Stephen Filippo, a teacher of Philosophy and Theology in the high school and college level. Read the rest of this entry »

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Augustine, Science and Bible Reading

Here is a reading of Augustine’s “De Genesi ad Litteram” in the light of the problem of homosexuality in the US. The article is not about homosexuality per se but on an issue that is related to it: the relationship between science and Scriptures.

The author, Dr. Daniel Beck enumerates three Augustinian principles taken from De Genesi ad Litteram on how a Bible-reading Christian should confront issues raised by science. Here are the three principles:

  1. Biblical interpretation according to human passion only harms the faith.
  2. Don’t presume to speak as an authority in everything simply because you read your Bible; and
  3. The truth of Scripture will never contradict right reason; right reason confirms the truth of Scripture

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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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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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Theology 106: Its Place in the Theology Curriculum

I have been called upon to teach Theology 106 at the Colegio San Agustin-Biñan. When I brought together the old Theology 107 and 108 to form a new 3 unit course called “Introduction to the Life and Works of St. Augustine” it was to solve the problem of untrained catechists teaching seminar-like courses on St. Augustine. It proved to be beneficial however since it forced us to read St. Augustine’s works and therefore have a better appreciation of what he has done in deepening our understanding of the Catholic faith. So how do I currently understand the place of Theology 106 in the Theology curriculum we have at the University of San Agustin, Colegio San Agustin Bacolod and Biñan? Here it is…

Theology as taught in the under-graduate level has the characteristics of an adult catechetical instruction. Its main purpose is instruct students in Catholic thought and doctrine. For non-Catholics such an instruction serves a cultural purpose: the Catholic Church is two millenia old, the only human institution that has survived centuries of persecution and suppression. Surely, the vitality of such an institution is worth studying, especially since it has been and continues to be an active agent in the formation of human history.

Theological instruction has another purpose. Colegio San Agustin-Biñan, like its sister schools, aim at the formation of an integrated human being. Integral to this formation is the element of reflection. It has been said that the unreflected life is not worth living. Integral formation requires that reflection which allows the human person to drink deep, as it were, from the marrows of human existence.

Philosophy is the systematic reflection on all things in the light of their first principles and causes. Its object is the answer to the question “Why”. The means by which philosophy arrives at its goal is through reason alone. “Reason alone” does not mean reflection in a vacuum; such a reflection also requires all possible data that the human mind can gather using methods that are valid for research and study. Theology – as taught in any undergraduate Catholic school — is the systematic reflection on all things as known by God and revealed by Him. In this perspective, “Theology” is indeed the science/knowledge of God as Revealer. The formal object quo is reason aided by faith.

Theology, then is not only about Catholic life and teaching, it is also about human reflection which combines reason and faith. John Paul II in his “Faith and Reason” has shown how the Catholic Church upholds human reason and how this human power is elevated by Divine Grace when it opens itself to God’s Revelation and accepts it in faith. Faith is basically trust in the One who reveals and is in no way in opposition to reason. In fact, reason requires it, as our experience at school makes obvious.

If Theology is required for the maturity of human beings, within the walls of our Augustinian schools, it acquires a new color. One of the values which our educational program wishes to impart is the pursuit of Truth (see “Ten Augustinian Values: Devotion to Study and the Pursuit of Truth”). Truth, for the Christian is not just the agreement between what is thought and what is known, or of the thing to itself. It is also the life-giving Light that shines on all who are born (cf. John 1). It is a Person, not just one of the properties of Being. Theology aims not at the philosopher’s Truth, but the encounter with Him who declares: “I am the Truth.”

In sum, our Theology curriculum has the following purposes:

  1. It provides instruction in the Catholic faith;
  2. It helps the undergraduate have a life that is worth living;
  3. It is one of the Colegio’s way of imparting the value of truth and wisdom

Our theology curriculum unfolds in six courses: Theology 101 to 106. Theology is the systematic reflection on all things as known by God and revealed by Him. God’s revelation can only be accepted in faith. Theology 101 is precisely on Faith and Revelation. Revelation is the data; faith accepts it and aids reason in processing it.

God reveals everything in His Word. “Word of God” has three inter-dependent meanings. First, it means “Christ”, the Word of God made flesh. Second, it is the “memory of Christ” that the apostles hand down from generation to generation through their successors in the act of Tradition. At a certain point in history, the tradition of the apostles was fixed in writing and “canonized” as it were so as to become a memory-aid in the subsequent traditioning of the Word of God. Thus, the third meaning of “Word of God”: Holy Scriptures. Theology takes all three in consideration, with Tradition and Scriptures as its guides to the knowledge of Christ, God’s Word par excellence. It is by this that it is truly “theology”.

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God reveals Himself in Christ. The object of Theology is the encounter with the Word of God who is Truth. But Christ is no longer just the carpenter from Nazareth who died on the cross two thousand years ago, who after three days resurrected and “was taken up into heaven.” Paul writes that we no longer regard Christ as he was in the flesh. Rather, He is now Head of the Body, which is the Church. Theology 102 therefore is about Christ and His Church, the Total Christ that still needs to grow to full stature.

Theology 103 focuses on the vital relationship of Christ and His Church. “I am the Vine, you are the Branches” Jesus said to his disciples, those whom He calls “my brothers”. The sacraments are the means by which the vitality of the Resurrected Christ sustains the life of His Body.

From Theology 102-103, the Christian’s life and his relationship to Christ is seen abstracted from day-to-day living. In Theology 104-105 the Christian life is seen within the context of human history. Christ commands his disciples to love God above all and their neighbor as themselves. Theology 104 is about how these commands are carried out in the day-to-day life of the Christian. Theology 105 extends the study to cover the relationship of those commandments to the Common Good.

From Theology 101-105, then there is a progress from reflection on the Christian life as inserted in the mystery of the Total Christ to the Christian life as lived in human history. The basics of theological reflection has been covered. The undergrad should at the end of Theology 105 already realize that a good Christian makes a good citizen of any nation. It should then be clear that like Noah and his family at the end of the Great Flood, the Christian, emerging from the waters of baptism, is the hope of the world. In other words, until Theology 105 the student is already equipped with the essential elements for entering the professional life and make him/herself not only useful for society but also to live a fully human life. The last course in the series offers an example, that of St. Augustine of Hippo, who lends his name to the Colegio. Thus Theology 106 is “An Introduction to the Life and Works of St. Augustine”. John Paul II himself has endorsed Augustine not only as a guide to Theology but also to Christian living. He writes:

the exact and heartfelt knowledge of his (Augustine’s) life awakens the thirst for God, the attraction of Christ, the love for wisdom and truth, the need for grace, prayer, virtue, fraternal charity, and the yearning for eternal happiness.

In sum, Theology 106 is not just information about St. Augustine, it is also a peek into the life of one who has known how it is to encounter the Word of God and make Him the main reason for living.

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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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