Saturday, November 24, 2012

Excerpts from St. Augustine’s Propositions on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans Part 1

I have not posted on this blog in a very long time and I do not want to leave this blog when I know it spurred me on to lots of interesting quotes from my patron saint, so I’ll try and post a bit now. Albeit you, dear reader, will have to bear smaller posts, since school, career, and health forbid me from writing more than just some tidbits here and there.

Below I’d like to post a few interesting tidbits from St. Augustine’s Propositions on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans which was written sometime during 394 AD and so about two or three years before the writing of “Miscellany of Questions in Response to St. Simplicianus”. In this manner, these propositions are a series of notes and writings from his conversations with the other members of the clergy in his vicinity. At this time St. Augustine was a priest for three years, and in the coming year he would succeed Valerius, the bishop in Hippo-Regius, as the bishop of Hippo. This is one of the earliest writings we have in which St. Augustine directly addresses some of the questions in Romans. St. Augustine does address the Law and grace in his earlier anti-Manichean works, but here we see his maturing theology of grace. (I'll write more at another time)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Apologies on Late Blog posts

Hello fellow bloggers and internet folks,

I apologize for my lack of blogging in the past month. I have been struggling with many things in my life this past month. I am having some social relationship problems and am struggling with my workload at the time. I ask you for your prayers and your due patience. My apologies to those who have wanted more blogging about St. Augustine in the coming days. I hope I can get at least one post out this month. Blogging will have to be greatly reduced. Please keep me in your prayers, my name is Steven.

May God bless each and every one of you.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Meister Eckhart, Counsel 11 from Counsels on Discernment, what to do when God is far away from us

Image of Master Eckhart
Hello there everybody,

I would like to post a post from Counsel 11 of Eckhart von Hochheim's (Miester [Master] Eckhart) Counsels on Discernment. Eckhart was a Dominican theologian of the 14th century who was brought up on heretical charges by the Franciscan-led Inquisition of the period. Some of his doctrines were regarded as heretical but according to the Catholic Church's decisions in 2010 he was not condemned in name and so may be read as an orthodox theologian, albeit I add, we ought to be cautious.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Shout out to blog followers

Hi blog followers!

According to my records I've got 3 blog followers and I'd like to make a shout out to you all. Thank you all for supporting my blog and coming to read it from time to time.

I'd just like to write something nice about y'all and perhaps get you all networked too just in case anybody wanted to talk.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

St. Augustine brief quotes on Mary's Dormition and Assumption

Hi there, I'd like to put up two quotes on the Our Lady's Dormition from St. Augustine. I found this from a certain Deacon on Facebook. I'm not sure if he was Catholic or Eastern Orthodox, or otherwise. But here they are!

A sketch of a theological view of the Ave Maria (Hail Mary) prayer

14th century Byzantine Annunciation
 ( Evangelismosicon

This small exposition of mine was drawn up to help me to better reflect on how to teach the Hail Mary prayer, but it got a bit out of hand and there is certainly more content here than just a 4th grade level reflection, which I intended at the outset. All in all, much of my reflection echoes, I think, St. Thomas of Aquinas' reflection on the Hail Mary prayer which did not have the last part of the prayer we know today (Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death). You can find his reflection here.

The prayer Hail Mary is a centuries-old and traditional Catholic prayer that in some of its oldest forms is written without the clause, Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. In light of this, we should understand that the prayer itself comes from both the Holy Scriptures and from the light of Catholic Tradition. The full length of the prayer reads:

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Augustine: The Decline of the Roman Empire

Hi all you Augustinians out there! I thought I would write a brief post regarding a film that is being pushed around, called "Restless Heart" by Ignatius Press. It's a film about St. Augustine, which was directed by Christian Duguay, a Canadian director, who filmed the television movie, "Augustine: The Decline of the Roman Empire", for Italian television. It was filmed as a two part mini series and has been released with English and Spanish dub. The film was filmed in Tunisia, near Hippo-Regius, or so I read.

It's a great film. And I highly recommend it. It dramatizes some aspects of St. Augustine's life and stays pretty faithful to the autobiographical and historical information that we have, though perhaps there is some element of creativity. I'll try and write a full review of the film as I watch it again through Youtube.

Why did St. Augustine write the Confessions and what does it tell us about him?

The intention of this article herein is to explore St. Augustine's purpose, motive, and desires in writing the thirteen books of his famous Confessions. Why write about his own life, his own sins, his own coming to grace, and what sort of a message is St. Augustine trying to make in his thirteen books? I will strive to explore what the events were in St. Augustine's life that might have spurred him on to write his Confessions, possible motives for why St. Augustine might have written this book, what sort of a book the Confessions is, and what the contents of St. Augustine's Confessions can tell us about him. The other half of this article will discuss another viewpoint on the Confessions and strive to look closely to what place Confessions has in Christian literature and in Christian piety.

What was St. Augustine doing when he was writing his Confessions
I’m writing this article as an exploration of St. Augustine’s possible motives for writing the spiritual classic, The Confessions in Thirteen Books, or more simply the Confessions. Confessions was begun around 397 AD and published near 401 AD, so about one or two years after St. Augustine had become a bishop, taking Valerius’ place as the bishop of Hippo. The article itself will cover what St. Augustine intended when he wrote the Confessions, what it meant in the context of his world and ministry as a bishop, where else we might find a prototype for the kind of work that he completed in the spiritual classic, what the book can teach us about St. Augustine and about the spiritual life, and finally a half of the document will go to answering some negative comments made by an Eastern Orthodox priest regarding St. Augustine's Confessions and its legacy in Western Christendom.

So to begin with I would like to provide more background to St. Augustine's Confessions by noting some of the works that St. Augustine was up to during the period between 397 AD and 401 AD when the work was being written, I will list them below. This list will helps set down what sort of works and interests St. Augustine had in mind before he began writing the Confessions.

Monday, August 27, 2012

First Grade Catechism for Adults 1.01.04: Creation shows God’s love to us

The Andes Mountains

All around us are countless mysteries in the world and many of them can, when we reflect on them in quiet show the beauty and mystery of God. Take for example, water. It’s a simple thing that we have all around us. Here in Chicago we’re blessed with Lake Michigan which provides much of our drinking supply. But liquid water in this solar system is exceedingly rare, and very rare indeed anywhere else in the universe. God has given us a miracle, the miracle of having nearly three quarters of the planet covered in liquid water from which we could live and thrive on. Even more spectacular and unlikely is it how everything in the universe was able to come together to become what it is today so that we could live and come to know God. There ought to be a wonder and awe about us when we consider all that God has made and put before us, even the smallest things like a pebble or an ant crawling on the ground can evoke in us some awe in how small it is and yet how incomprehensible it is to us in its essence. We can see the rock and measure the rock and know many things about the rock but isn’t there something about the rock that stands apart from us, something that perhaps calls us to reflect on the deeper mystery of the rock’s existence. Perhaps this is getting to philosophical, but the point is that God’s creation is full of mystery and we should be full of awe about it.

First Grade Catechism for Adults 1.01.03: God loved me from the foundation of the world

Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles
at the Last Supper.

In St. Paul’s letter to St. Timothy, St. Paul writes that it is pleasing to God that we pray for everybody and that “3[this] is good and pleasing to God our savior, 4 who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:3-4)1. It is important to know that God loves every single creature that He has created, and He loves men and women, boys and girls, so much that He sent us His only begotten Son into the world to save us from our sins and that whoever lived faithfully by Him would have eternal life2. All of God’s plan for us is sometimes called the history or the plan of salvation. The Lord made us to share in his divine life, that is to be with Him in Heaven and share in the mystery of love between His own self and us. St. Peter in his second letter writes, “Through these, He has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.” (2nd Peter 1:4) He writes that God has given us many promises and blessings so as to approach Him and come to even share in God’s mysterious divine nature.

First Grade Catechism for Adults 1.01.02: God made mankind in His image

"The image of the invisible God"
Colossians 1:15
God tells us in Genesis 1:26, “Let Us make human beings in our image, after Our likeness.”1 But we need to ask ourselves what does it mean to be made in the likeness and image of God? Usually when we talk about somebody being the image of somebody else we mean to say that they look like them. For example, a father might tell his wife that their newborn baby boy is the near perfect image of his wife or of himself. However, when we talk about people’s likeness to God we don’t mean to say that in the beginning when God made Adam and Eve that He made them so that they look like what He looks like. This is part of the reason why the Israelites were forbidden from making an image of God, and this is because nobody knew what God looked like, and so God wanted to protect them from confusing Him with images of Him which could never really reflect who He is. Isaiah asks in Isaiah 40: 18-19 who can make an image that looks like God and if anybody could it would not be God, or even look like him. And so we must identify what it means that God made us in His image.

First Grade Catechism for Adults 1.01.01: God is the Creator who made all things good

The Nicene Creed begins with “I believe in God” and as the Catechism of the Catholic Church1 says this is the most fundamental part of the Apostles’ Creed. (CCC 199). “The whole Creed speaks of God, and when it also speaks of man and of the world it does so in relation to God.” (CCC 199) All of the articles of our faith depend on God, and so when we reflect on the teachings of the Catholic Church they all must fall fundamentally upon faith in God, and not simply any god, but the one God who Is and who has revealed Himself as the one true God.

God’s Divine Name helps us understand His relationship to Creation
It is this God who we believe created the entire universe and the entire world. The immensity of God’s majesty is beyond what anybody can comprehend, and yet the Lord revealed His name to His people, specifically to Moses, at Mount Sinai:

Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you’, and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I Am has sent me to you’…this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” (Exodus 3:13-15)

Teaching the faith, in honor of St. Monica

I'm about to post some posts for a Catholic Catechism class at my local parish for first grade. The articles are not the work of the Catholic Church nor the parish and only reflect my personal views on the things that the Archdiocese of Chicago expects first graders to know. They are intended to be read by adults hoping to have a basis or scheme to teach their children about the Catholic faith.

May St. Monica who's feast is today teach us how to impress on our own children's hearts a seed of faith, hope, and love. We also pray that through her intercession that Christ brings us all closer to Him through a constant and inward conversion and confession of faith.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Letter 54: St. Augustine’s Reply to the Inquiries of Januarius (Book 1 of 2)

Franco Nero as St. Augustine
in Augustine: The Decline of
the Roman Empire by Christian
This letter comes from St. Augustine’s fifth or sixth year of being a bishop in Hippo and it is written to a certain Januarius who is asking about how it is that a faithful Christian ought to fast before receiving the Eucharist. St. Augustine replies in two books, the first one significantly smaller than the last one, and these are recorded as letters 54 and 55. Letters 54 and 55 were written around 400 AD, and seem to not only be replying to Januarius’ questions but also partially a response to another writer whose writings disturbed Januarius. The first book will comment on the Eucharistic fast and its purpose, as well as an outline of God’s plan of salvation for all those in the Church. I hope that it will be an enlightening look into St. Augustine’s conception of the sacraments (Divine mysteries), and of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Monday, August 13, 2012

José Pereira and Robert Fastiggi on Augustinian Spirituality during the Catholic Reformation, Part 2 of 2

Baroque Augustinian Fray. Luis de León
The last post concerned the writings of José Pereira and Robert Fastiggi on Augustinian spirituality during the Catholic Reformation. This post concerns a part of their writings where St. Augustine posits the degrees of the spiritual life, which is numbered at seven grades of progress, and are closely linked to the Beatitudes (which are eight though apparently two are grouped together to make seven main points). I am cautious about what is contained in this reading of St. Augustine's work since I've not yet read St. Augustine's sermons on the Sermon on the Mount, nor am I too familiar with St. Augustine's writings on spiritual progress. All the less however, I will post this forward in an attempt to bring a scholarly (and costly) work to the public. The work again is The Mystical Theology of the Catholic Reformation. Which is about $48 on Amazon.

José Pereira and Robert Fastiggi on Augustinian Spirituality during the Catholic Reformation, Part 1 of 2

Luis de León, a Baroque Augustinian theologian
This excerpt comes from Pereira and Fastiggi's book "The Mystical Theology of the Catholic Reformation: An Overview of Baroque Spirituality" published in 2006. The book is quite fascinating though it is a light read for a scholarly book, and from what it looks like it is a partial view into the mystical theology of the Catholic Reformation. There are quite a number of long lists of authors and their lives throughout the book which is a bit off-putting if you want to dive directly into the theme of the book, and even then the book seems a bit generic at times, though with sure nuggets of many Baroque authors' views on Catholic spirituality. The book covers an overview of Baroque thought first, including Baroque Scholasticism, Baroque modernity, Baroque Positive Theology, and Baroque Sacred Oratory. Following these sections are chapters that actually deal with the title's topic, spirituality. They include a chapter titled, "Unfolding of Baroque Spirituality", then followed by the Spirituality of the Monastic Orders (Benedictine, Cistercian, Carthusian), Spirituality of the Mendicant Friars (Franciscan, Dominican), Spirituality of the clerics Regular (Augustinian, Theatine, Barnabite), Spirituality of the Major Orders of the Baroque age (Jesuit, Oratorian), and the final sections deal with Carmelite Spirituality (Calced Carmelite, Discalced Carmelite, St. Teresa of Ávila, St. John of the Cross).

Saturday, August 11, 2012

I Am the Living Bread which has come down from Heaven. A brief commentary on this Sunday's Readings

This Sunday’s readings in the Ordinary Form Catholic mass will be:

6th century icon of Christ
from St. Catherine Monastery
at Mount Sinai*
1 Kings 19:4-8
Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Ephesians 4:30- 5:2
John 6:41-51

Below I only hope to offer a small reflection on such a great amount of Our Lord’s word’s to us. I am very new to reading Scripture, and so most of my focus will be on reading the New Testament works in the context of the Psalms and then perhaps the Old Testament works. A Christian who is deep in his faith would understand these texts far better than I do. I hope to look somewhat to the Patristic texts as well to get a view of the Church’s faith regarding the Sacred Mystery of Jesus the Living Bread from Heaven.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

St. Augustine’s Sermon 63, wake up Christ in your heart

Rembrandt painting of Jesus calming the storm

Among one of St. Augustine’s shortest sermons, Sermon 63 is not a sermon that we know when it was composed. There are multiple sermons that exist from St. Augustine’s preaching on the story of Matthew 8 where the Apostles go with Christ in a boat only to have a storm brew up, wherein they wake up Jesus who calms the storm and chastises them for their lack of faith. Being among the shortest of St. Augustine’s sermons it is entirely possible that this is a later sermon of St. Augustine’s which had a tendency to be much shorter than his earlier sermons. Just as well if this sermon is a repeated lesson on earlier sermons it is likely that his parish already knew what he was going to say about Matthew 8, and so there was no need to say more. In any regard, let us listen to the Doctore Caritatis (Doctor of Charity).

Monday, August 6, 2012

“And Jesus Took with Him” a Carthusian reflection on the prayer of Jesus in the Transfiguration

Icon of the Transfiguration at St. Catherine Monastery
at Mt. Sinai. It is an apse mosaic commissioned in the
6th century by Emperor Justinian the Great.

This essay is for a reflection on today’s feast, the feast of the Transfiguration, in which Jesus took up with Him Sts. Peter, James, and John up to Mount Tabor to pray. This is a great feast and is the moment in which Jesus showed forth His divinity to His disciples as well as making Moses and Elijah spring forth to see Him. The theme of this essay concerns less regarding the Transfiguration itself but Christ’s model of prayer in bringing His disciples with Him to pray and embrace His divinity. There is much mystery to the Transfiguration, and much of our own life is played out in the hope that we will see Jesus in His divinity and that that Light which shined forth from Him in all holiness might shine upon our souls and make us holy.

Jesus took with Him Peter, James, and John and climbed the mountain to pray. (Luke 9:28)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

St. Thomas of Aquinas on God’s Omnipotence (Summa Theologiae Part 1 Question 25 Article 3)

St. Thomas of Aquinas
This article regards St. Thomas of Aquinas the Common view of the way in which we can think of God as being omnipotent, that is, all-powerful. There is much thought in modern days especially amongst those who do not hold the Faith that God’s omnipotence is incomprehensibly great or that God cannot possibly be omnipotent. This article here is intended as both a means to illuminate our faith and as a way to better comprehend the outstanding quality of God’s greatness. This is not a scholarly article, one ought to note, and so the inaccuracies to be found in my analysis of highly technical scholastic philosophy and theology are on account of my own inability to read the saint’s work. For those unaware of who St. Thomas of Aquinas is, I note that he is one of the most celebrated saints of the Catholic Church in regards to his teachings on theology and philosophy. His Summa Theologiae is the Doctor of the Church’s compendium of topics of theology and philosophy for theology students at the university he taught at. The life of St. Thomas of Aquinas is quite interesting and one can read more about it here. All in all then, let us learn from the saint and may God enlighten us to learn more about Him through His holy saints!

Bl. John Duns Scotus on God’s Omnipotence (Oxford Lectures on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, Book I Distinction 42-43)

Bl. John Duns Scotus

This article is a part of a series of medieval scholastic theology regarding the topic of God’s omnipotence. This isn’t intended as a scholarly article but only a layman’s opinion and reading of a very small snippet of a holy man’s complex labyrinth of thought and devotion. It is very likely that I will make mistakes regarding the interpretation of the Subtle Doctor’s theology, but hopefully God will make an opportunity of this article to help us better know Him in our hearts and in our minds.

Now in this regard Bl. John Duns Scotus’ remarks on the power of God’s omnipotence comes from some of his lectures at Oxford regarding the Sentences in Four Books by Peter Lombard, an early Catholic who strove to assemble authorities and arguments for various doctrines of the Faith. Commenting and lecturing on the Sentences was mandatory for any person to become a doctor in theology or philosophy, etc. And so these Oxford Lectures, as I understand it are some of Bl. Scotus’ earlier work on these theological and philosophical issues, though I think it rivals St. Thomas of Aquinas’ later work in the matter of philosophical distinctions. To be fair however, Bl. Scotus was some time after St. Thomas and the universities were likely to have increased in rigor, and understanding of Aristotle and other key philosophical texts.

Here is the link by the way to the Oxford Commentary on Distinction 42 and 43.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Letter 23: St. Augustine the priest to Maximinus the Donatist bishop regarding re-baptism: A lesson in ecumenism

St. Augustine being baptized by St. Ambrose in St. Monica's
presence. Work by Joseph Briffa.

During the fourth and fifth century St. Augustine and the many others of the African Catholic Church were at great ends to put an end to a schism that had started around 303 AD (about sixty years before St. Augustine was born) regarding Emperor Diocletian’s persecution of Christians. The persecution involved either death or the handing over of the Scriptures, and those which had decided to hand over their church’s Scriptures were called traditores (those who handed over holy things). At one point in 311 AD a so-called traditor had ordained the new bishop of Carthage which started a controversy in which the Donatists formed a schism from the Catholic Church. The Donatists were somewhat like the Novationists in that they saw the Church as only for saints and not sinners, and in that regard they were rigorists with regards to sins and sins that excluded from Communion. This is a very brief account of the Donatists, but suffice to say they were the majority Christian sect at the time of St. Augustine’s being a priest, though by the end of his office as bishop the Catholic Church was a much greater force in the region. This article regards St. Augustine’s humility as a priest lovingly exhorting Maximinus the Donatist bishop to stop re-baptizing Catholics and to strive for peace and unity of Donatists and Catholics. Letter 23 was written in 392 AD.

The letter regards a controversy in which St. Augustine sends a letter to the Donatist bishop Maximinus (who later became Catholic) regarding their re-baptism of one of the deacons of St. Augustine’s church, named Mutugenna. St. Augustine repudiates re-baptism here as un-Christian but the manner of his letter is impressive in the degree of his humility and charity. One might say this regards how weak the Catholic Church was in 392 AD, when the letter was written, but considering St. Augustine’s Confessions which are from a close time period, I think it likely that this simply regards St. Augustine’s taking up the life of the Gospel of humility, obedience, and charity.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Beyond the Absolute, Part 3 of 3: Beyond the Absolute

St. Bruno in ecstasy
In earlier blog posts I addressed the essay written by a Carthusian monk regarding the concept of God as Absolute and the wounding embrace with which He calls a Carthusian monk (or any man) to his final and true vocation, taking up the cross in the monastery. This is the last part of the Carthusian’s essay and in my opinion is the better part of the essay since it is the climax of the monk’s work.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Rule of St. Benedict and the Twelve Steps of Humility

July 11th is the feast day of St. Benedict the great founder of monastic communities all across Italy. St. Benedict was born around 480 AD and died around 543 AD, though the purpose of this post is not to provide the biographical information regarding St. Benedict’s founding numerous monastic communities. You could find more about St. Benedict of Nursia’s life here at New Advent. 

What will however be discussed regards St. Benedict’s Rule, that is the Rule that he set down for how to live in a monastic community. After much difficulty in settling monastic communities and maintaining them, St. Benedict set out to write his thoughts regarding the right schedule and life style proper to a monk in a monastic community. The Benedictines and several other monastic orders still keep the Rule of St. Benedict or a modification of it. St. Benedict is in some manner the father of organized monasticism after the fall of Rome. There were other monastic communities that contained documents written by holy saints (like St. Basil’s Rule and St. Augustine’s Rule) but none were so organized and thought out in such a manner as to provide daily guidance and stability as St. Benedict’s Rule. St. Benedict’s piety and patience shows forth very clearly from his Rule, and of one particular importance for today’s focus will be his consideration of humility.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Contraception and the Divine Poverty

Sic Deus dilexit mundum.
For God so loved the world.
My apologies on not having written anything in due time, I have had a lot of time to spend at work this summer, and though that is not a full excuse I have spent some time reading up. I hope to blog a bit about what I read in Orthodox readings of  Augustine, that is a volume based on a 2007 conference regarding the Eastern Orthodox reception of St. Augustine the blessed Father of the West. However, this post regards a controversial topic for Christians in modern industrialized societies regarding the usage and acceptance of contraception as a means to postponing pregnancy. The focus of this essay will aim to discuss why the Catholic Church in her wisdom has provided that contraception is against the Divine mandate to be fruitful and multiply, as well as the notion of the man and woman becoming one flesh as Christ chose Himself to become one with His holy Church. Human sexuality is inevitably tied to Christ and His mission through His Incarnation and Holy Life. Marriage is the image and icon of Christ’s loving union and communion with the Church, which is without reserve and is of a totally self-giving, self-sacrificial love. The use of contraceptives shatters the total self-giving of love present in the marital life and so ruins and distorts that which marital life is aimed to imitate, the beauty of the unity between Christ and His Bride the Church. May Christian spouses love each other in Christ, be united to Him, and love each other in the image and likeness of Christ's sacrificial Incarnation, Life, and Passion, for the sake of His Beloved Bride, the Church.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Question 26 of 83 of St. Augustine's 83 Diverse Questions; Penance

The following post regards a series of 83 questions that St. Augustine had been asked and had published between 388 AD and 395 AD. St. Augustine was ordained a priest between 391 AD and 395/396 AD when he was ordained a bishop. He was a pastor in Hippo and also the spiritual father (Abba) of a monastery. Below is an English translation of the 26th question (I'll give more later) that St. Augustine answered as a priest and abbot of Hippo.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Beyond the Absolute Part 2 of 3:The Paths of the Absolute

Last post at the start of June I commented on a Carthusian essay titled, Beyond the Absolute (from the book The Wound of Love), which regards the contemplative and the seemingly mundane lifestyle which imitates Christ's own self-poverty. Here is the link to the first part of this commentary.The life of Christians are often taken to be mundane, even those who are holy, but this is much the same mistake that others made with remark to our Good Lord. For it is in this radical self-emptying and humility that transforms our most mundane tasks into offerings of tremendous amounts of love to God our Beloved. And so the Savior's words ring strongly: "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in that which is greater: and he that is unjust in that which is little is unjust also in that which is greater." (Luke 16:10) Make no mistake that this self-offering of resplendent love was present in every beat of Christ's Sacred Heart, and just as well the path of humility and self-offering was present in our Lady through God's assistance and favor. So too then the Carthusian who wrote this essay will describe the call of his own life in view of the captivating, seducing call of God Who loves us as if we were the only ones, His special chosen Beloved. Below I will commentate on parts of the essay.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Beyond the Absolute Part 1 of 3: The Seduction of the Absolute

There often come times in each person’s life where life can become muddlesome, sorrowful, and painful. There are other moments of joy, pleasure, luxury, love, and comfort, and of course moments for other things in this life as well. But it seems in all of man, and in all of life there is the subtle whisper of the desire for the Absolute. He Who Is, Is the Absolute, and this we know as Christians, but for many others there is the Absolute, the Transcendent One, whom one may experience the desire for flirtingly in the beautiful view of nature in its tranquility and elegance. But for many, there is no understanding of this desire, and many times a misattribution of it, and we all feel somehow intuitively that that Transcendence though we may have seen it by a strong wind, the overthrowing of mountains, an blazing fire, or another natural event is yet not contained by the wind, nor by the fire, nor by the mountain, nor by any natural event of any kind.

Sometimes when sin clouds our life we lose touch of finding God, but to every soul that has been touched by God, and every soul has in a small way, there is still ever yet that yearning and desire for the Absolute One, but we cannot find Him in the things that come to pass, but only in the embrace of prayer and through the ministry of His holy Church.

I write this post as the lowest of novices in prayer, and as one who struggles to even incline or be inclined to prayer, but I simply wanted to post some thoughts on the reflections of a Carthusian monk, found in the book “The Wound of Love.” My comments are in plain text, and quotes will be italicized.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Regarding Prayers to the Saints, Why do it?

This blog aims at fostering a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith and tradition, and of course a tradition of the Church as old as her foundation itself is prayer to the saints, angels, and holy martyrs. The Church has known well and deep in her heart that this form of petition is very different from the sort of petition that we raise to God Himself, but in this post I will try and lay down some arguments and reasoning for why God would deign it good and just that we pray to the saints in order to receive something from Him (either directly from Him or from Him passed to a saint and then to us).

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

St. Augustine’s early synthesis on Grace, Law, and Predestination: An Overview Summary of the teachings in the Miscellany

I should have made this post a long while back before releasing my two outlines on the Miscellany of Questions in Response to St. Simplicianus, but here will be a main summary of St. Augustine’s view of justification, grace, law, and predestination as presented in the Miscellany. Much of what is presented in St. Augustine’s Miscellany shows up in the very late Augustinian corpus, such as St. Augustine’s usage of the Three Stages in life (lawlessness, imprisonment under the law, and finally the freedom of grace to fulfill the law), his development of original sin (in the second half of his miscellany is it fully developed), the primacy of grace, and many other things.

Friday, May 4, 2012

An Outline of “Miscellany of Questions in Response to St. Simplicianus”: The early Augustinian doctrine on Grace and Law (Question 2 of 2)

This post regards the second main question in the Miscellany of Questions in Response to St. Simplicianus, that is the proper way of understanding God’s election of the blessed, His reprobation of the damned, predestination in general, and how to reconcile this with the free will. It is a preliminary look by St. Augustine on what grace, the law, justification, and eternal predestination mean for the Catholic Church. Much of St. Augustine’s terminology and early thoughts will continue to be used further on by the saint in his doctrines of grace, though as with all things he sharpens them, though as far as I have read much of his early thought is only deepened, developed, looked to with greater care, and not much changes in the saint’s thoughts (recall he became a bishop during what we would call the middle of life [though in those times it was not very common for every person to reach St. Augustine’s age]). All of this account then precedes the Pelagian controversy, and it is remarkable to read the orthodoxy of St. Augustine’s theology of grace so early on, in fact it is beauty to the eyes to behold it. With all of this in mind then, let us proceed to strive to understand our holy father, St. Augustine, though I must warn that it gets quite bleak towards the middle of this document, do not be disheartened for the Church has not yet decided completely how to comprehend authoritatively God’s most ineffable mystery and revelation for man, the call to election and glory with Him in eternity. Read carefully and let me know if anything herein disturbs you. St. Augustine’s doctrine as it appears to me seems orthodox and true to the Gospel, but to the untrained eye and those young in the faith, may not understand entirely what the Doctor of Grace is explaining to us.

To go to the summary of this enormous post and the post that goes along with this post, go here:


Monday, April 23, 2012

Facebook's calling?

So I keep getting posts on the sidebar in my Facebook account that are pretty much asking me to become a monk of some sort. While it is a desirable state in life (I'll be writing about the Carthusians soon, hopefully, if God permits), I find it amusing that Facebook is trying to advertise, my usage of it through calling me to abandon it. Amusing. That's probably not amusing to you all, but it is to me.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Revelations 22:1-2, The River of Living Water that flows from the Lamb and God’s Throne

Catholic Nick over at his webpage has stumbled on to a very interesting phrase in Scripture that may point towards a Scriptural affirmation of the Filioque clause in Latin theology. The Filioque refers to a phrase inserted into the Constantinopolitan-Nicene Creed in the Latin West during the Middle Ages to say that the Spirit proceeds from the Father AND the Son. It is a difficult theological question and deals with the theology of the Trinity. There is another very good reference and explanation of this in a Catholic website as well.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

St. Ambrose on the Eucharist, Preliminary Look

Today’s post is written on this Holy Thursday, the day by which the Lord instituted the Eucharist, the offering of Himself in the appearances of bread and wine for our sake and goodness, that He and His offering might be in us and renew us. I would like to post a brief posting on St. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan who converted St. Augustine into Catholicism. St. Ambrose has quite a few things to say regarding the Eucharist, and is certainly more to the point than St. Augustine’s multifaceted perception of the Sacrament. St. Augustine does call Holy Communion the sacrifice, but his view of the Body and Blood of the Lord involves not only a consideration of Christ and the Gospel, but also His Body the Church and the elect. It would require me much time to consider St. Augustine’s doctrine of the Eucharist, as would it too to fully consider St. Ambrose’s addressing of the Most Holy Sacrament, but here I provide a snippet from other more worthy websites.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

An Outline of “Miscellany of Questions in Response to St. Simplicianus”: The early Augustinian doctrine on Grace and Law (Question 1 of 2)

Not very much is known to us regarding St. Simplicianus other than what is told to us through the mouth of St. Augustine and other contemporaries. His importance to the Church and to history have mainly regarded his influence on Sts. Ambrose and Augustine, as well as the conversion of famed philosopher Marius Victorinus, as well as his own bishopric in Milan, succeeding St. Ambrose. Having said this, St. Simplicianus is a saint, who’s feast day is on August 14th in the Ambrosian rite and August 16th, sometimes 14th or 13th, but never the 15th as it once was since the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated on this day. St. Simplicianus is thought to have been born around 320 AD, and died around 400 AD or 401 AD, of which he spent from 396 or 397 AD to his death as the successor of St. Ambrose as bishop of Milan. I won’t go much farther into the biographical details of St. Simplicianus, which can be found in the Confessions of St. Augustine or otherwise online.

[To go to the summary of this long post and the post that goes along with this post, go here:

It was during his ascension to the bishopric of Milan (around the same time as St. Augustine’s rise to the bishopric of Hippo) that he asked St. Augustine a variety of questions regarding difficulties in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and difficulties in the Old Testament references used in St. Paul’s Epistle or otherwise. We will consider then in this article the two questions dealt with by St. Augustine regarding the Epistle to the Romans. Specifically the questions were:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Absurdity of the Pro-Abortion Movement and the Dignity of the Human Person

St. Augustine much in his life spoke out against the vices and evils of his time, whether it be the terrible schism of the Donatists from the holy Church, the errors of the Manicheans, the corruption of the Roman state, or simply those that lie in his and many other peoples live, and if we aim to follow in his footsteps we must do much the same. The Catholic Church speaks out sharply against the sin of abortion, and threatens automatic excommunication for anyone who willingly participates or assists in an abortion. The Church knows deep in her heart by the reflection of what she has received from her Bridegroom, Christ, that abortion necessarily entails the murder of a person with an eternal soul, fastened and created by the Lord at conception. The reasons are simple then why abortion is wrong; the reasons against it are quite convoluted so as to distract us from the real evil of murdering our innocent children. Here I will begin to try and shed some light on some of the reasons why abortion is an unjust deed, the arguments will come from Christianity and right reason.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Reading the Psalms with St. Augustine: Psalm 2

It has been quite some time since my last posting on the Psalms, the beautiful collection of hymns and prophecies. In the early Church the Psalms were one of the most profound works considered by the holy Doctors and Fathers, and indeed if any of us want to learn more about St. Augustine or more about the Church or more about our Lord, then we must start by being firmly rooted in Scripture. And so we must again come to reflect on the Psalms, but let us do so through the lens and teaching of St. Augustine, for he is a Doctor of the Church who’s theology comes so strongly from his own study of Scripture and his reflection on the traditions of the Church passed down to him through St. Ambrose and his brother bishops. The words of St. Augustine will come from his Enarrations on the Psalms, which can be found on New Advent.

Here then let us look to the Psalm first, reflect on it that God might enlighten us, and listen to the wisdom of St. Augustine who was lifted up by God, and come again to rest on what the Lord speaks in the Scriptures.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Humorous Jokes

Hello good readers,
I wanted to make a post about putting up some jokes that I've enjoyed in the past few days. Many of them are quite childish or silly jokes, which I find to be the best sorts of jokes. I am not a fan of crude jokes, though sometimes I admit that I will laugh at them. I have been thinking of making some posts lately, but I have been very busy, and I have wondered myself at how un-intellectual or holy I am to make many of my posts. I am probably very open to ridicule by many, but I know that I too am a man, ignorant and weak as I am, and that the shared humanity that all men have is something that exalts us and grants us purpose. Our proper resting place transcends us and lies in God who so desired to show us that our place is not on this Earth that He chose to become man united to Himself (man and God). So let us in the spirit of friendship share some good jokes, rejoicing in the love of life, especially in hope of the one to come.

Now then, let's have some jokes! :-)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pope Pius XI On St. Augustine

Herein is a great encyclical by Pope Pius XI regarding the holy virtues and life of our beloved St. Augustine, whom we petition and ask that our hearts be touched by that same Lover who touched his heart.
Ad Salutem, papal encyclical by Pius XI

It is quite long, but it is a very skillful and beautiful expression of how powerful the life of St. Augustine is to Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Great posts from Dr. Lilles on the life of Prayer

Those who've been reading my posts may see that I try to put a big emphasis on the need for prayer in the Christian life. It is most important for salvation, and no doubt for those who want to study theology, they must strive vigorously for their salvation in Christ. Who would want to be lead by a theologian who does not have Heaven and God's love as his aim?

Anyway I wanted to provide some links to great essays written by Dr. Lilles over at his blog:
Beginning to Pray

To Know Nothing but God and the Soul: The Prayer of St. Augustine in Soliloquies Bk 1 Ch 1, Part 5 of 5

Now we come to the concluding aspects of St. Augustine’s prayer in Soliloquies Bk 1 Ch 1. If we might remark on a few themes from St. Augustine’s prayers it might be outlined as follows: The desire to know God and then to adore Him with every single aspect of the heart, no matter how small, the desire to be set free from errors and follow Christ in the fullness of truth, the desire to understand one’s own heart and soul so as to steer it clear of shipwrecks and land in our intended resting place, God, and a desire to have a clean and pure heart. All these things are part of the Augustinian prayer life, we might say, especially the zeal of the heart to place all trust and love in God.

To Know Nothing but God and the Soul: The Prayer of St. Augustine in Soliloquies Bk 1 Ch1 part 4 of 5

Here I remark again in commentary on the prayer of St. Augustine at the outset of his Soliloquies, the famous work in which St. Augustine works out in his own mind what he must do with his life and how he must seek God. We could learn a thing or two from the holy Doctor.

To Know Nothing but God and the Soul: The Prayer of St. Augustine in Soliloquies Bk 1 Ch1, Part 3 of 5

This post regards a third portion of St. Augustine’s prayer in Soliloquies Bk 1 Ch1 and so I would like to bring an analysis of the third part of the saints prayers so that we can ourselves learn how to reflect on the prayers handed down to us by the saints, and learn how we ought to pray to the Lord. Our Lord is not concerned with the repetition of vain formulas, as many Protestants rightly try to bring up against Catholics, but He is not opposed to formalized prayers that we may use as an aid to a deeper devotion. One Hail Mary said with great love for our Lord and our Lady will bring great grace to the soul who completes that prayer, imagine then what great grace will be open to the soul who prays the Rosary with complete devotion then! May the Lord then grant us to pray always with our hearts even in the times when we pray the prayers commended to us by others. In fact, let us learn by their wisdom.

Petition Against the HHS contraception mandate (Again)

In past months the United States government has tried to pass mandates that require Catholic institutions though not Catholic churches and parishes to materially provide for contraceptives, even those that may cause the abortion of a newly conceived child before pregnancy occurs, to its entire staff under its health insurance policies. The argument from the United States government states that institutions that are not solely dedicated to spreading a religious message and are not dedicated to solely employing employees of that same religion cannot be exempt from this ruling. This effectively requires Catholic hospitals, charities, schools, and many other Catholic institutions to provide contraception against the will of those who run these institutions. These groups will either eventually be required to cease being Catholic institutions, since the bishop of the diocese grants the title of Catholic to the institution, and become secular institutions, have to be shut down, at the bishop’s will, or in some manner co-operate materially with what is against the Divine law as promulgated through the Church. Catholics are prohibited from using artificial contraception as outlined in Humanae Vitae a papal encyclical that is binding on all Catholics. Here is the official document at the Vatican website: Humanae Vitae

Saturday, February 25, 2012

To Know Nothing but God and the Soul: The Prayer of St. Augustine in Soliloquies Bk 1 Ch1, Part 2 of 5

This post regards a second portion of St. Augustine’s prayer in Soliloquies Bk 1 Ch1 and so I bring it to my readers, whoever you may be, as a way to further reflect on the way in which we can strive to be more prayerful and reflective on the love of God that so over abundantly swells in God’s most Sacred Heart for each and every one of us. The mystery of who we are, what we are made for, and who we are cannot be answered by any philosophy, nor can it even be answered fully in the theological thoughts of those still bound to Earth, but the mystery must be experienced and encompassed in the Personal relation to God as most Holy Trinity. This sort of Personal relationship is not the one in which many think it is God reaching into our lives whereby we perceive Him and He speaks and moves us, which is holy indeed but is not the fullness of contemplative prayer, but rather the further and deep contemplative dimension of the highest and saintliest prayers whereby God is truly before us as greater than ourselves and closer to us than our very own selves are, and present as the most intense Divine Lover who we love intensely as well. It is God who moves and builds the heart by His grace to be able to relate to Him in this way. Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

To know nothing but God and the Soul: The Prayer of St. Augustine Solliloquies Bk I Ch 1, Part 1 of 5

This is part one of five small commentaries I hope to create regarding prayer and how we can learn from the Doctor of Grace how to pray. Here is the link to the full text of St. Augustine's prayer in Soliloquies Bk 1 Ch 1: To know nothing but God and the Soul: The Prayer of St. Augustine in Soliloquies Bk 1 Ch 1

Here we will consider a fragment of St. Augustine’s prayer and seek out a greater understanding of his prayer, and of course how it is that we ought to pray.

To Know nothing but God and the Soul: The Prayer of St. Augustine in Soliloquies Bk I Ch 1

The Soliloquies of St. Augustine is an unfinished work of the blessed Doctor written sometime around 387 AD. They reflect a new genre of writing by St. Augustine which he calls a soliloquy, and as such in his work he begins with a dialogue between himself (Augustine) and reason (namely perhaps his reason). And in such manner he seeks to provide a basis and investigation of his faith and his own self-identity. Such marks the Augustinian character of the investigation of the soul with the earnest desire for God Who is Truth. Below I will give his prayer to God which his reason dictates is appropriate for him to do if he is to advance in knowing what is true and what is false, what good and what evil. This is much the saint’s recognition of his state as a wayfarer in this life and marks out for himself a way for him to find comfort in the truth. Yet perhaps it is more Augustinian to say the Truth finds us than we find the Truth.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Reading the Psalms with St. Augustine: Psalm 1

Here I want to introduce a theme here at The Restless Heart of St. Augustine and remark that though St. Augustine was heavily devoted to doling out the orthodox teachings of the Church in theology he put a greater emphasis on learning to love God and in Him love the soul and neighbor with all our heart. It is one thing to desire to learn about God and the Church, but another to have the fire of Divine love burn in us and fill us with saving grace and wisdom. As this Lenten season begins today, let us set aside the things of this world and focus on those of the next world. I will try to put down posts regularly as pertaining to St. Augustine and/or the three focuses of Lent (alms-giving, prayer, and fasting [penance]).

Monday, February 20, 2012

St. Augustine on the Chair of St. Peter and the Petrine Office

Yesterday was the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, a feast that commemorates the office which St. Peter held in the Church as the leader of the Apostles. The feast draws upon the tradition of St. Peter’s authority in the Roman See and the seat by which he sat in his authority. In some manner than St. Augustine in his numerous writings reflects on the nature of this Apostolic See (of which city both St. Peter and St. Paul were martyred), though some might wonder whether this is the full on Roman primacy that we see in other authors of the same time, and more to the point whether this Roman primacy has the same effect and nature as it did in the Medieval Church. Though St. Augustine’s interpretation of Matthew 16 varies at times he still speaks of the honor which the Apostolic See has, and the manner in which it need be respected as a See of nobility.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Early thoughts on Divine Illumination and Wisdom in On the Happy Life

St. Augustine’s earliest work begun is On the Happy Life, which consists primarily of St. Augustine’s dialogue and exposition of what is necessary in order to have a truly blessed life. To no one’s surprise it consists in the capacity to know God who leads us to truth, to understand and comprehend the truth enjoyed (God), and the bond of these two that connects us with the supreme measure (God)1. Similarly for the early St. Augustine, this happy life is necessarily tied to the rational faculties of the mind by which when fully following them we will be fully blessed. This corresponds to the way of wisdom and happiness here for the early St. Augustine who is so concerned with knowing truth and obtaining wisdom, which for him is inexorably tied to an intimate and soulful connection with God.

St. Augustine’s faith in the Cassiciacum around 386 AD

This post is a brief post regarding the sometimes heard opinion that St. Augustine was more a convert to Neo-platonism rather than Christianity when he spent his times within the walls of the Cassiciacum (which is near Milan) in the year 386. While St. Augustine during the year 386 was heavily neo-Platonist influenced as one can see by reading his early works, it is not sensible to deny that he believed in Christianity and that he desired to be baptized. Let us examine some quotes from his earliest works here to see his professions of faith.