May God fill you with every
today and all days!
The Villanova Chapter of the Augustinian Seculars
came together for their monthly meeting the second
Saturday of August. We spoke that Saturday a bit more
about the things which Augustine found most important
in his Christian life.
As you could tell from the last message that came
out of the Augustinian Friends Spirituality Office
earlier this past month, we would bring joy to Augustine’s
heart if we looked not so much at him, but at the
things which brought him closer to Jesus Christ.
This would be a favor to ourselves as well, for those
same things might indeed help us, too, grow closer
Take a look below, if you’d like, where there
is a short list and brief summary of what Augustine
found important. It’s not an exhaustive list;
it’s just, let's say,
A Saturday Morning’s
Look at What Augustine Found Most Important
What is important for Augustine in his spirituality?
In the first place, of course, Christ.
St. Augustine’s own emphasis was always on Christ.
Christ was the center of his teaching, preaching,
and spirituality – the center also of Augustine’s
Of course, Augustine’s thoughts on Christ were
the cornerstone of his life as a Christian and as
a pastor and teacher. But, for Augustine, we could
say even that Christ served as the pattern of his
It wasn’t just that Christ was Augustine’s
favorite subject; Christ and his mission and ministry,
his way of being God and his way of being human, his
way of teaching and preaching, his way of self-giving
– all these shaped Augustine’s own way
of thinking, his own method for life, for teaching,
ministering, preaching, and leading the people entrusted
to his care. Thus Christ, as we said in the last message,
was the source and also the method of Augustine’s
theology and philosophy, of all his thinking and spirituality.
After Christ and on account of Christ, Augustine
placed emphasis on Scripture.
Remember how, for so long, he had found it hard to
read and to hear the words of the Bible with appreciation
and understanding? God’s grace changed that.
Remember it was the words of Scripture that moved
him to accept God’s grace of conversion. Recall
the scene of his conversion in the garden and the
role Scripture played. [Confessions, book
What would be next for Augustine?
Maybe next in importance is humility.
There is a way in which Augustine approaches even
Scripture with humility. That is, he grew to accept
God’s word that way.
At first, Augustine had been so caught up in the
style of impressive rhetoric that the Scriptures seemed
too simple, too plain and basic. They seemed to lack
much of the beautiful language of what Augustine thought
of as good literature.
It can be hard to appreciate the Bible if we are
too full of ourselves, too full of pride. We could
say, “I can’t see the sense in this –
this Biblical story, this miracle of Christ, this
way of speaking or acting, this approach to reality
– I can’t see the sense in this, therefore
it must be wrong.” Sometimes people come at
Scripture this way.
We can even feel we’re being magnanimous. For
example, when we are really full of ourselves we can
even come up with the idea, “Jesus agrees with
me here, so he’s right”! People don’t
usually say that out loud, but the attitude can be
there. Maybe we’ve met people like that. Maybe
we’ve even met them in the mirror!
Augustine once again: our focus must not be on ourselves,
but on Christ. Jesus himself said, “The Father
is greater than I.” Why is it then that we say
we have God all sewn up – and all reality with
Interiority might be the next value
It can be necessary for us to reduce the “noise,”
the interference that dances around us in life, always
seeking an entrée into our minds, our thinking,
our serenity. It seems this interference, this noise,
wants to determine our response to all the stimuli
of life. Augustine found that to be the case. It sometimes
seems this is true now even more than it was in Augustine’s
Turning the noise off and letting our minds and souls
relax in meditation – this was important to
Augustine. It’s important now also. Remember
how the Bible passage that called to Augustine for
conversion ***warned against dissipation, dissipating
one’s energy, especially one’s psychic
and spiritual energy, on too much of the clamorous
but less important side of human existence.
Thinking of the Scriptures and how they can lead
us to Christ, we can find something that is pretty
much the opposite of this distracted inattention.
It's called lectio divina. That’s the
term theological and spiritual writers of the Christian
Church use for the slow and meditative reading of
Scripture that allows God and Christ to speak to us.
In such a context Augustine calls Christ “the
Not in dissipation, but in the gentle, slow, meditative,
and loving approach to Scripture called lectio
divina, Christ the inner Teacher can speak to
us. We'll have to come back to this idea again sometime
Two more thoughts can’t be left out of a list
of Augustine’s important things – thoughts
that turn us to our neighbor, our brother and sister
human beings. We can maybe speak of these ideas more
another time, but we can’t close this list with
mentioning them. They are on the one hand, compassion
and mercy, and on the other the importance of community.
Augustine would have us show compassion and
mercy to all, even to ourselves, letting
Christ, “the inner Healer,” heal our pride,
our focus on self.
Augustine carries this kindness far beyond oneself,
too: Augustine stands out among writers on moral life
because of his concern even for the perpetrator of
evil – maybe the last one we would ordinarily
be moved to care about.
It’s unlikely that many of us interested in
Augustine would forget the importance he placed on
community. Our friends and those
around us can, by their words, but also by their life,
speak to us of God and of grace-filled living.
We can profit from the help of others for understanding
Scripture and for coming to know Christ, to know God.
Those others are our nearest manifestation of the
Body of Christ; they are our link to the Church.
Indeed, in many ways community is really in the first
position. We could see it as the most important thing,
for it is the living out of love toward God and neighbor.
That thought brings us back to the two-fold love.
It will also lead us to the answer for another important
question: Where does the created world come into all
of this? Can the world lead us to God?
We spoke a bit about those ideas, too, on that August
Saturday morning. But let’s leave it for another
All the Augustinians – the friars, nuns, Sisters,
Seculars, Friends, Volunteers, Defenders, Partners
– wish you again
happy and grace-filled St Augustine’s Day!
August 28, 2007