St Augustine tells us the fate of those who hear God’s words and does them, and then for emphasis those who do not, hearing is not enough, the words must be planted in our soul and bear fruit in our actions and deeds.
Who are the poor in spirit in the first beatitude, “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God?” St Augustine teaches us that the poor in spirit are those who “are humble and God fearing,” whose spirit is not proud, not puffed up by the wind. St Augustine contrasts this with the spirit of the proud, in a passage quoted by the Catholic Catechism, that though the “proud seek after and love the kingdoms of the earth” while the poor in spirit possess the kingdom of heaven. […]
If you seek to become a Christian for social or temporal reasons you may backslide from the faith when you see “wicked and impious men” who are more prosperous than you are. You may ask yourself, How is this faith helping me? This is the wrong question, for the true Christian seeks “everlasting blessedness and the perpetual rest of the saints so he may not pass into eternal fire with the devil but rather enter into the Eternal Kingdom together with Christ. He will be on his guard in every temptation, so we will neither be corrupted by prosperity nor be utterly broken in spirit by adversity, but remain modest and temperate during good times, and be brave and patient during times of tribulation.” Then this Christian will “Love God more than he fears hell,” and he will recoil from evil thoughts and temptations. […]
In all his writings St Augustine reminds us that the core of our faith is the commands to Love God with all of our heart and with all of our soul and with all of our mind and with all of our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. In this work on catechesis St Augustine teaches that the vice that ruins love, the vice that is the enemy of love is envy, and that the mother of envy is pride. This section is referenced in the Catholic Catechism teaching on the Commandment, Do Not Covet. […]
This discourse on the Apostle’s Creed was delivered by St Augustine to a local church council in North Africa. In this treatise he repeats his classical explanation of the Trinity:
The Father is truly God, the Son is truly God, and the Holy Spirit is truly God.
The Father is not sometimes the Son, and the Father is not sometimes the Holy Spirit, and God is One. We have God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, but “there are not three Gods in that Trinity, but One God and one substance.” […]
The church teaches that what gives marriage purpose is the bearing of children, so we do not live our lives for ourselves. Salvation is the purpose of marriage, the salvation of our children, the salvation of our spouse, and the working out of our salvation. How does the command to love our neighbor as ourselves work its way out in marriage? We should consider first the good of our children in the living of our lives, then we should work for the good of our spouse, and we should take care of ourselves, but we are last. But last of all in a marriage should be concupiscence, but we should not neglect loving kindness and tenderness, that should pervade all the relationships with our children and with our husband or wife. […]
St Augustine starts his discussion on “On the Good of Marriage” with a discussion how marriage is first a friendship in bonds of family, and a friendship between man and wife, friends who walk together, side by side, raising children, growing old together. St Augustine is a bit harsher in “Marriage and Concupiscence,” teaching that “in matrimony, let these nuptial blessings b the objects of our love – offspring, fidelity, the sacramental bond.” This sacramental bond is meant to be ever-enduring, “lost neither by divorce nor by adultery, and should be guarded by husband and wife with concord and charity.” […]
St Augustine’s most famous quote, made before his ultimate conversion, was a prayer to God, “Please, Lord, grant me chastity, but not yet.” This shows that St Augustine was quite human, just like us, and quite honest about his struggles with intimacy. Let us give St Augustine the benefit of the doubt, let us read him hagiographically, for even though the modern world with modern technology differs greatly from the world of the ancient Christian, St Augustine has much to teach us, and we can benefit from his teaching, finding purpose in our family life, working out our salvation through the raising of our children and through our relationships with our spouse and other family members and close friends. […]
What are the steps to Wisdom? St Augustine teaches us there are seven steps to wisdom. Fear of God, the beginning of wisdom, is the first step. “We should be led by the fear of God to seek the knowledge of His will, what He commands us to desire, what we should avoid.” Fear of God should make us mindful of our mortality, so we will always remember our death before us, so we can crucify our pride “as if our flesh were nailed to the tree.”
We are as quick to forget Fear of God as we are slow to remember our mortality, as we are reluctant to accept our suffering, as we are quick to seek cheap grace and an easy faith. Fear of God is like sweating in Church, Loving God in an air-conditioned sanctuary is what we seek. But Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and the end of wisdom is seeking the Love of God. […]
Above all, we should always remember the words of St Augustine, when he teaches that when anyone “thinks he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, and puts such an interpretation upon them that does not build up the two-fold love of God and our neighbor, does not truly understand the Holy Scriptures.” […]