"In verbo veritatis" (2 Cor 6:7)

March 30, 2012


Filed under: Lent 2012 — komonchak @ 8:42 am

The Lord our God spread the faith in and by which we live in many and varied ways through the holy Books, the Scriptures. While varying the mysteries of the words [sacramenta verborum], he nonetheless commended the one faith. Because the same thing is told in many ways, the variety prevents boredom while the agreement preserves the unity. And so in the Psalm we have just heard sung, to which we have responded with our own singing, we are about to say things that you already know, and yet, with God’s help and grace, perhaps we shall bring you some pleasure when things you’ve heard over and over you now chew over when reminded of them. By calling animals clean that chew their cud God wished to suggest that everyone ought to place what he hears into his heart so that he will not be slow to think about it later. When he hears, he’s like an eater; but when he recalls what he heard and reflects on it, he’s like a ruminant. When the same things are said in a new way, they enable us pleasantly to think about things we already know and even gladly to listen to them again. The ancient becomes new because differently expressed. (EnPs 46[47], 1; PL 36, 524-25)

March 28, 2012

Many on fire making one flame

Filed under: Lent 2012 — komonchak @ 8:32 pm

Augustine is commenting on Psalm 121[122, which is one of the “songs of ascents,” or “songs of steps.”

This Psalm, which we have taken up to treat today for you, is of desire for Jerusalem itself; that is, the one who is going up in this Psalm, because it is a “song of steps.” And these steps, as we have often told you, are the steps, not of those who are going down, but of those who are going up. So the Psalmist wishes to go up. And where does he wish to go up if not to heaven? What does that mean? Does it mean he wants to go up to be with the sun and the moon and the stars? Of course not! But in heaven there is the eternal Jerusalem where our fellow citizens, the angels are, from whom we are wanderers here on earth. We sigh while wandering; we shall rejoice in the city. But we also find companions while we wander here, those who have already seen this city itself, and they are inviting us to run towards it. The Psalmist also rejoices with them and says: “I rejoiced at those who said to me, ‘We shall go into the house of the Lord’” (Ps 121[122]1).

Brothers and sisters, think of some feast of the martyrs and of some shrine where crowds flock on certain days for a celebration. (more…)

The mirror of the Scriptures

Filed under: Lent 2012 — komonchak @ 9:23 am

St. Augustine interprets Psalm 123[124] as if it is the song of martyrs who have escaped their torments.

The exultant members of Christ are singing this Psalm. But here below who sings exultantly except in hope? But because that hope of ours is certain, we too sing exultingly. Those who are singing are not strangers to us, and it’s not as if we do not find our voice in this Psalm. Listen to it as if you were hearing yourselves. Listen to it as if you were seeing yourselves in the mirror of the Scriptures. When you look at the Scriptures as if in a mirror, your face rejoices when you find yourself in your exultant hope like those members of Christ who are singing this song. You, too, will be among those members, and you will sing this song.  [In Ps 123,3; PL 37:1641]

March 27, 2012

Strong as death

Filed under: Lent 2012 — komonchak @ 9:52 am

May peace be in your strength” (Ps 121[122]:7). O Jerusalem! O city who are being built as a city, … may peace be in your strength! May peace be in your love, because your strength is your love. Listen to the Song of Songs: “Love is strong as death” (Song 8:6). A great saying, brothers and sisters: “Love is strong as death”! The strength of love could not be expressed more magnificently than this: “Love is strong as death”! For who can resist death, sisters and brothers? Think about it. You may resist fire, waves, the sword; you may resist powers; you may resist kings; but death alone comes, and who resists it? Nothing is stronger than it. That is why charity is compared to the strength of death: “Love is strong as death.” And because death kills what we were so that we can be what we were not, love creates a sort of death in us. This death Paul had died when he said, “The world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal 6:14); that death they had died to whom he said: “You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col 3:3). Love is strong as death. (Augustine, EnPs 121[122], 12; PL 37, 1628)

March 26, 2012

The pearl of great price

Filed under: Lent 2012 — komonchak @ 10:58 am

In this are manifested the children of God and the children of the devil: Whoever is not righteous is not from God, and whoever does not love his brother.” Now it is clear what he is saying: “And whoever does not love his brother.” Only love distinguishes God’s children from the devil’s. Let them all sign themselves with the sign of Christ’s cross. Let them all answer, “Amen.” Let them all sing, “Alleluia!” Let them all be baptized. Let them all enter the Church. Let them all build the walls of churches. God’s children are distinguished from the devil’s only by charity. Those who have charity are born of God; those who don’t have it are not born of God. The great proof, the great dividing line! Have whatever you wish: if you don’t have this one thing, it does you no good; have it, and you’ve fulfilled the Law. “For whoever loves another has fulfilled the Law,” the Apostle says; and “Love is the fulfilling of the Law” (Rm 13:8, 10).

I think charity is the pearl which the Gospel says that merchant was seeking, the one who found a pearl and sold all that he had and bought it (Mt 13:46). This, charity, is the pearl of great price without which whatever you possess does you no good, while if you have it alone, it is enough for you. You now see with faith; then you will see with sight. If we love even though we don’t see, how shall we embrace when we do see! How are we to exercise ourselves? In love of our brothers and sisters. You can say to me, “I haven’t seen God”; but can you say to me, “I haven’t seen a human being”? Love your brother or sister. If you love the sister or brother that you see, you will at the same time see God, too; because you will see love itself, and God dwells within. (Augustine on I John, Hom 5, 7; PL 35, 2016)

March 25, 2012

The broad place

Filed under: Lent 2012 — komonchak @ 9:20 am

See, brothers and sisters, how many things we pass through, things in which there is no end. We use them as if we were on the road, as if we were resting overnight in an inn, and then moving on. Where, then, is the end? “Beloved, we are children of God and it has not yet appeared what we shall be”: this is what is said in this Epistle. So then, we’re on the road; whatever place we come to, we have to move on until we reach some end. “We know that when it does appear, we shall be like him because we shall see him as he is” (I Jn 3:2). That’s the end, there the perpetual praising, there the never-failing Alleluia. The Psalmist speaks of this end: “I have seen the end of all perfection,” and as if someone asked him, “What is the end that you see,” he adds: “Your exceedingly broad commandment ” (Ps 118[119]:96). That’s the end: the breadth of God’s commandment. The breadth of the commandment is love, because where there is love, there is no narrowness. The Apostle was in that broad place when he said, “Our mouth is open to you, O Corinthians, our heart is stretched; you are not narrowed in us” (2 Cor 6:11-12). That’s “your exceedingly broad commandment.” What is the broad commandment? “A new commandment I give you: that you love one another.” Love is not narrowed. Do you wish not to be narrowed on earth? Then dwell in the broad place. Whatever someone may do to you does not narrow you because you love what no one can harm. You love God, you love the fellowship, you love God’s law; you love God’s Church; and all of that will be eternal. You labor on earth, but you’ll attain the promised fruit. (Augustine on I John, Hom. 10, 6; PL 35:2058)

March 24, 2012

Never sated

Filed under: Lent 2012 — komonchak @ 9:28 am

This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments” (1 Jn 4:3). You have already heard this: “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” See how Christ did not want to divide you over lots of pages! “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” On which two commandments? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” and, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt22:37-40) These are the two commandments that this whole Epistle is talking about. If you hold fast to love, then, you’ll be safe. Why fear that you will do someone evil? Who acts evilly toward someone he loves? Love, and you can only do good….

It’s not our task to enlarge your hearts; ask God for the gift of loving one another. Love all men, even your enemies, not because they are your brothers but so that they may become your brothers, so that you may always be on fire with fraternal love whether to one who has become your brother or toward an enemy that he may become your brother by being loved. Whenever you love a brother you are loving a friend. He is now with you, he is now linked with you in catholic unity. If you live well, you love the one who, once an enemy, has become your brother. … All our love is a brotherly love toward Christians, toward all Christ’s members. The discipline of charity, brothers and sisters, its strength, its flower, its fruit, its beauty, its pleasantness, its food, its drink, its embraces, know no satiety. If love so delights us as we wander, imagine how we shall rejoice in our homeland! (Augustine on I John, Hom 10, 7; PL 35, 2059)

March 23, 2012

More inward than my inmost self

Filed under: Lent 2012 — komonchak @ 10:25 am

You have dealt sweetly with your servant, Lord, according to your word” (Ps 118[119]:65)… I believe that this means that you have made me feel delight in what is good. To delight in the good is a great gift of God. When a good work which the law commands is done out of fear of punishment and not out of delight in righteousness, when God is dreaded and not loved, it is the act of a slave and not of a free person. A servant does not abide in a house for ever, but a child does (Jn 8:35), because a love brought to perfection casts our fear (I Jn 4:18). “You have dealt sweetly with your servant,” Lord, by making one who had been a slave into your child…. [Augustine, EnPs 118/17, 1; PL 37:1547]

I have not shrunk from your judgements,” it says, “for you have laid down a law for me” (Ps 118[119]:102). He has stated what he feared so that he “restrained his feet from every evil way.” What does “I have not shrunk from your judgements” mean but what he says in another place: “I am afraid of your judgements.” I persevered in my trust of them “because you have laid down a law for me.” More inward than my inmost self [Interior intimis meis], you have laid down a law within me by your Spirit as if by your finger so that I might not fear it as a slave without love, but might, as your child, love it with a chaste fear and fear it with a chaste love. [Augustine, EnPs 118[119]/22, 6; PL 37:1565]

March 22, 2012

The inner commander

Filed under: Lent 2012 — komonchak @ 10:17 am

Love is a lovely word, but deeds are lovelier. We can’t always be talking about love–we’ve got other things to do, and different actions draw us in different directions, so that our tongues don’t have the leisure always to be talking about love, as much as it is true that our tongues could have nothing better to do. But although we may not always talk about love, we may always keep it. That “Alleluia” we are singing now: can we always do it? We don’t sing “Alleluia” for a whole hour or even for a small portion of an hour, and then we give ourselves to something else. As you know, “Alleluia” means “Praise God.” One cannot always be praising God with one’s tongue, but one can always be praising God by one’s behavior. Works of mercy, charitable affection, holy piety, uncorrupted chastity, sober modesty–all these are to be practiced whether we’re in public or at home, whether we’re with others or in our room, whether we’re speaking or silent, whether doing something or at leisure–they’re always to be practiced.

All the virtues I’ve mentioned are within. Who could name them all? They are like the army of a commander, the one who resides within, in your mind. As a commander does what he pleases by means of his army, so the Lord Jesus Christ, when he begins to dwell in our inner self, that is, in our mind by faith (Eph 3:17), uses those virtues like his ministers. These virtues cannot be seen by the eyes, but are praised as soon as they are mentioned, and they wouldn’t be praised if they were not loved and wouldn’t be loved unless they were seen, but they’re seen only with another eye. Our members are visibly moved by these invisible virtues. We have feet for walking, but where? Wherever a good will, the emperor’s soldier, moves them. We have hands for working; but what? What that charity commands that is inspired within by the Holy Spirit. The members are seen when they are moved, but the one within, who commands, is not seen. And who it is within who commands is known almost alone by the one who commands within and by the one commanded within. (Augustine on I John, Hom 8, 1; PL 35, 2036)

March 20, 2012

“How will we become beautiful?”

Filed under: Lent 2012 — komonchak @ 9:54 pm

Let us love, because he loved us first” (I Jn 4:19). For how could we love unless he had first loved us? By loving we became his friends, but he loved us when we were his enemies so that we might be made his friends. He loved us first, and gave us the gift of loving him. We did not yet love him, and by loving we are made beautiful.

Our soul was ugly in its wickedness, but by loving God it is made beautiful. What a love that is that makes the lover beautiful! God is always beautiful, never ugly, never changeable. He who is always beautiful loved us first, and what were we but ugly and unsightly? But not then to leave us ugly, but to change us and from unlovely to make us beautiful. How will we become beautiful? By loving him who is always beautiful. The more love grows in you, the more your beauty grows, because charity is the soul’s beauty. “Let us love, because he first loved us.” Listen to the Apostle Paul: “God showed his love for us in this that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8-9), the just for the unjust, the beautiful for the ugly. (Augustine on I John, Hom. 9,9; PL 35, 2051)

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