Today, my friends, is the feast of St. Augustine, the patron saint of brewers, theologians, and printers. So, in a way, he’s the patron of St. Austin Review even before you had to google who St. Austin was (hint: it’s an alternative spelling of Augustine).
Augustine has had a great impact in my life. I discovered him in undergrad and, at first, couldn’t stand him. However, the more he got assigned the more I saw the beauty of his writings and the brilliance of his thought. While Chesterton and Aquinas brought me into the Church, Augustine and Dante kept me Catholic during the darker times.
I recommend a couple of readings for today’s feast: first, Steven Jonathan Rummelsburg reflects on St. Augustine’s Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount:
St Augustine shows how Christ unveiled the law hidden in the Old Testament by elucidating the relationship between the Beatitudes, virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit enumerated by the prophet Isaiah. In 11:2-3 he speaks of the coming of Christ: “the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” Christ came to fulfill the law and the prophets and in the Beatitudes He reveals the law hidden in the Prophet’s account of those seven operations of the Holy Spirit.
Also, Daniel “Bearman” Stewart reflects on the on the love of St. Monica for her son and how they each attained holiness in a different way. St. Monica often is only known as “Augustine’s mum” but she was so much more. In a way, while we may sing Augustine’s praise, Monica is equally worthy of respect and we could do quite well to follow her example.
Says the Bearman:
“Of course Augustine is a saint! Look at all he did,” we may be tempted to think. Even non-Catholics can recognize the greatness of someone like St. Augustine. But theological brilliance isn’t cause for sainthood. No, Augustine and Monica are saints for the same reason; they were faithful in the tasks they were given. This can look so different from saint to saint because of differences in circumstances as well as capacity. In Confessions, Augustine recognized that we all drink from the same fountain of life but our capacities vary. We were made for different purposes and to fulfill those purposes brings glory to God. For some of us, this may mean something the world will recognize as great. For others, this purpose may be something no one will ever even notice. Either way, we are privileged to be part of God’s plan of cosmic redemption
I find this both encouraging and overwhelming. I don’t possess a fraction of Augustine’s genius so I’m encouraged because I won’t have to write a new City of God in order to become a saint. But I’m also overwhelmed because Monica’s task was not a small one. She suffered through much and was steadfast through all of it, exemplifying the persistent prayer commanded by Christ.
Of course, this is also a day to read St. Augustine. I get that a Christmas sermon may be odd, but his most brilliant and passionate reflections come from reflecting on the Incarnation. So, go here to read and enjoy!
For how could there be peace on earth unless Truth has arisen from the earth, that is, unless Christ were born of our flesh? And he is our peace who made the two into one: that we might be men of good will, sweetly linked by the bond of unity.
Let us then rejoice in this grace, so that our glorying may bear witness to our good conscience by which we glory, not in ourselves, but in the Lord. That is why Scripture says: He is my glory, the one who lifts up my head. For what greater grace could God have made to dawn on us than to make his only Son become the son of man, so that a son of man might in his turn become son of God?
Ask if this were merited; ask for its reason, for its justification, and see whether you will find any other answer but sheer grace.