THE MEMORIAL OF SAINT AUGUSTINE
St. Augustine is the son of St. Monica, a very holy and consistent mother, whose feast we celebrated yesterday. St. Augustine was born in North Africa in 354 and died in 430. We all know that he did not lead a virtuous life when he was young. But perhaps because of the experience of his young life that he had a radical conversion later in his life. He was baptized by Bishop Saint Ambrose. He then became the bishop of Hippo. He was a well known philosopher and a talented theologian who helped to protect the truths of Catholic faith against attacks of heresies. He contributed many good points for theology. Please allow me to share 2 of them.
First, he developed the theology of the Eucharist of St. Paul. As we know, St. Paul in his letter to the Christians in Corinth: “You are the Body of Christ and His members.” We are the Body of Christ. St. Augustine developed St. Paul’s theology, saying: “Thus, if you wish to understand the body of Christ, listen to the Apostle, who says to the believers: You are the body of Christ and His members (1Cor 12, 27). And thus, if you are the body of Christ and His members, it is your mystery which has been placed on the altar of the Lord; you received you own mystery. You answer “Amen” to what you are, and in answering, you accept it. For you hear, “The body of Christ” and you answer “Amen.” Be a member of Christ’s body, so that your Amen may be true.
Second, he was called “the doctor of grace”. The central point is that everything good we do and have is from the grace of God. Without God’s grace we cannot do anything, even to respond to God. He protested against the point of view of Pelagius who said that we can earn our merits and actually can save ourselves through our good works. In Pelagian view, we don’t depend on God’s grace to have salvation. This is of course totally wrong in our Catholic tradition.
Dear friends, may I suggest 2 simple points for our reflection and living today. First, we are the Body of Christ. Let us remember that we are united and present in the bread and wine we share at this table. So when we receive the Body of Christ, we receive all our brothers and sisters. Second, all we have are blessings from God. Our days are full of God’s blessings. Let us remember to count our blessings every day, especially in our down moments. Actually there is a lot of grace in difficult moments.
May God bless us all.
Joseph Viet, O.Carm.