Thursday, 7 October 2021

Saint Augustine of Hippo - short spiritual jewels.

 


                'St Augustine of Hippo'  by Philippe de Champaigne (1645-50)


The Heart at Rest


Ask the beauty of the earth, the beauty of the sky.

Question the order of the stars, the sun whose brightness

lights the day, the moon whose splendour softens the gloom

of night. Ask of the living creatures that move in the waves,

that roam the earth, that fly in the heavens.


Question all these and they will answer, 'Yes, we are beautiful.'

Their very loveliness is their confession of God: for who made

these lovely mutable things, but He who is Himself

unchangeable beauty?


Too late have I loved you, O beauty ever ancient, ever new,

too late have I loved you.


I sought for you abroad, but you were within me though

I was far from you. Then you touched me, and I longed

for your peace, and now all my hope is only in your great mercy.


Give what you command and then command what you will.


You have made us for yourself and our heart is restless till

it rests in you. Who will grant me to rest content in you?

To whom shall I turn for the gift of your coming into my heart

so that I may forget all the wrong I have done, and embrace

you alone, my only good?

St Augustine of Hippo. (354-430 AD)


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'Come, you blessed of my Father, receive a kingdom'


What are we to receive? A kingdom. For doing what? 'I was hungry

and you fed me.' What is more ordinary, more of this world, than

to feed the hungry, and yet it rates the Kingdom of Heaven!


'Feed the hungry, take the homeless into your house, clothe the naked.'

But what if you can't afford bread for the hungry, or have no house

nor spare clothes? Give a cup of cold water, put two pence in the alms

box. The poor widow gave as much with her two pennies as Zacchaeus

did with half his fortune.


What you have is the measure of your gift. Yet many give alms to a beggar

to show off, and not because they love their brother.


You stand before God: ask your own heart, look at what you did

and why you did it: was it for the empty praise of men? Look at

your heart, because you cannot judge what you do not see.


So, beloved, let us search our hearts in God's presence: you can

hide from man but not from God.


Flee to God himself if you want to run away from him; flee by

confessing, not by hiding; say to Him, 'You are my refuge', and so

let the love which alone brings life, grow within you.

St Augustine of Hippo. (354-430AD)


************



The Two Deaths


As a man you are destined to die.  Put it off as long as you like,

the thing so long delayed will come at last.


There is, however, another death, from which the Lord came to

deliver us: eternal death, the death of damnation with the devil

and his angels.  That is the real death; the other is only a change,

the leaving of the body.


Do not fear this kind, but be frightened of the other, and labour to

live in such a way that after death you may live with God.


Remember that Antichrists are not only to be found among those

who have gone away from us, but among many who are still in the

Church. The perjurer, the adulterer, the drunkard, the trafficker in

drugs, all evil-doers.


They will say, ‘But He made us like this’.  Our Creator cries out

from Heaven,  ‘I made the man; not the thief, the adulterer, the

miser:  all that moves in the sea, flies in the air, or walks on the

earth is my work, and sings my praise’.  But does avarice praise

the Lord, or drunkenness, or impurity?  Anything that does not

praise Him was not made by Him.

St Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD)



***********


Here today and gone tomorrow 


Wherever the soul of man turns, unless it turns to You, it clasps

sorrow to its heart.  Even if it clings to what is lovely, if this

loveliness is outside God, it has clung to sorrow, for these

beautiful things would not exist without You.  Like the sun, they

rise and set: they have their beginning and then they grow old and

die.


Let me praise You for these things, my God who made them all,

but do not let the love of them be like glue to fix them to my soul.


In these things there is nowhere to rest, because they do not last,

they pass away beyond the reach of our senses. Indeed, we cannot

lay firm hold on them even when they are with us.


In this world one thing passes away, and another takes its place. 

But does the Word of God pass away?  Make your dwelling in

Him.  Entrust to Him whatever you have, for all you possess is

from Him.  In Him is the peace that cannot be disturbed, and He

will not withhold Himself from your love if you do not withhold

your love from Him.

St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430AD)


(ack. The Joy of the Saints – Spiritual Readings throughout the year.

Edited by Robert Llewelyn. Published 1988 by Darton, Longman,

and Todd, London. - a selection of writings from both Catholic and Protestant sources)


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