Tuesday, August 28, 2012

St. Augustine of Hippo~A Bit Late in the Day

We entreat you brothers, as earnestly as we are able, to have charity, not only for one another, but also for those who are outside the church. Of these some are still pagans, who have not yet made an act of faith in Christ. Others are separated, insofar as they are joined with us in professing faith in Christ, our head, but are yet divided from the unity of his body. My friends, we must grieve over these as over our brothers. Whether they like it or not, they are our brothers; and they will only cease to be so when they no longer say our Father
This is from a discourse on the psalms by St. Augustine. It is the second reading from the Office of Readings for the fourteenth Tuesday in Ordinary Time, and yet it could so easily have been written today. 

I think wrote a few days ago about how depressing it is to look at Facebook these days, or, of course, to listen to the radio. I don't watch television. There is so much anger, and so much fear, and so much disdain for those we disagree with. So much of it comes from people who love God and love the Church, and yet what I never have seen anyone saying is what Augustine says in the passage above. "My friends, we must grieve over these as over our brothers."

Further on in this passage Augustine says, 
And so, dear brothers, we entreat you on their behalf, in the name of the very source of love, by whose milk we are nourished, and whose bread is our strength, in the name of Christ our Lord and his gentle love. For it is time now for us to show them great love and abundant compassion by praying to God for them. May he one day give them a clear mind to repent and to realize that they have nothing whatever to say against the truth; they have nothing now but the sickness of their hatred, and the stronger they think they are, the weaker they become. We entreat you then to pray for them, for they are weak, given to the wisdom of the flesh, to fleshly and carnal things, but yet they are our brothers.
So, who are these people that I'm saying we need to grieve over, that we need to be praying for. Well, they are whoever pops into your mind when you read this. They might not be the same people that pop into my mind, but that's okay. I think there's plenty of grieving and praying to be done for all of us. 


By the way, as far as I can tell this is a picture of Augustine, at least many people have used it as a picture of Augustine, although I can't find out who painted it or what it's called. I used it anyway because I really like it. It looks to me to be a detail of a larger picture. If anyone recognizes the picture, I would love to know more about it.

The Conversion of St. Augustine, Fra Angelico
Thanks to my sister, Lisa, and my daughter, Lisa.


  1. I don't know the painting, but (at the risk of stating the obvious) it seems to portray the passage from Book 8 of the Confessions:

    I flung myself down under a fig tree – how I know not – and gave free course to my tears. The streams of my eyes gushed out an acceptable sacrifice to thee. And, not indeed in these words, but to this effect, I cried to thee: "And thou, O Lord, how long? How long, O Lord? Wilt thou be angry forever? Oh, remember not against us our former iniquities." For I felt that I was still enthralled by them. I sent up these sorrowful cries: "How long, how long? Tomorrow and tomorrow? Why not now? Why not this very hour make an end to my uncleanness?" I was saying these things and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when suddenly I heard the voice of a boy or a girl I know not which – coming from the neighboring house, chanting over and over again, "Pick it up, read it; pick it up, read it."

    Not that that looks particuarly like a fig tree to my eyes.

  2. Thank you for this, Janet. It is a tradition of mine to always to go Mass on St. Augustine's feast, but yesterday when I went on my lunch break to a local parish, the church was, for reasons unknown to me, locked up. I was very disappointed, as I'd no other opportunity to go. Reading this post has done me some good.

  3. I almost used your St. Augustine picture, but I couldn't pass this one by.


  4. "we must grieve over these as over our brothers"

    I think most Christians would be very happy to do this, just as soon as they've brought these wayward brothers to utter ruin and finished rejoicing over their downfall.

    Seriously, I cringe when I hear someone add "I'll pray for you" to a vicious denunciation. Somehow the ostensible intent is subverted when you sense that it's followed by a silent "you a**h**e."