< link rel="DCTERMS.replaces" href="http://fumare.us/" > < meta name="DC.identifier" content="http://fumare.blogspot.com" > <!-- --><style type="text/css">@import url(https://www.blogger.com/static/v1/v-css/navbar/3334278262-classic.css); div.b-mobile {display:none;} </style> </head> <body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d12407651\x26blogName\x3dFUMARE\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLACK\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://fumare.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://fumare.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d6298351012122011485', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

FUMARE

Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Feast of S. Augustine


An acqaintance of mine--a WWII veteran and survivor of the Bataan death march--told me that the one book that he read and re-read during his service in WWII was the Confessions of St. Augustine. I suppose the prospect of one's death tends to focus the mind. Soldiers do a thankless job and are exposed to such horror and evil that they need and thirst for God, especially since they themselves know that their meeting with Him may be right around the next corner. Anyway, this old soldier took such comfort in the great saint's words that he could not exhaust the riches of the book or its human and spiritual insights. (What a relic that dog-eared copy of the Confessions would be--having likely survived in the cargo pockets of that soldier's uniform trousers!)

Augustine was a very gifted intellectual, but also a man who was racked with the desires of the flesh and what might be described as concupiscence on overdrive. His famous utterance, "O Lord make me chaste, but not yet" attests to his struggle with intellectually knowing what is true, good and beautiful, but not having gotten control of his own disordered self to choose true love over a lesser "perceived" love. Echoes of St. Paul's "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak" abound in the Confessions--be it fleshly desires for sensual pleasure, for glory, for recognition. How very human indeed!

A man reading this work in a foxhole in 1942 would be able to relate to the 4th century saint, because it is the story of the human condition. Likewise, you and I, living as we are in a concupiscence-driven society 17 centuries later, can still recognize the struggles that this most human of saints endured. Who could also forget Augustine's emotional attachments? He recounts why he went to shows--to cry and be moved! Here is a guy who for a long time never grew up. He was taken in by the emotion of what he saw, heard and smelled. He judged the goodness of something by the emotional effect it had upon him. Not unlike many today who judge their faith by experience alone--be it the smells and bells of the Tridentine Mass or the "couldaboughtahonda" jibberish of the charismatics--rather than the confoming of the mind to reality and recognizing God's revelation--even in the mundane task of chasing a disabled child in the vestibule of the church while the Mass is being offered.

Yet, behind Augustine's struggle (which in some sense is the struggle of every human being) there was a person who prayed for him. A person who never lost faith in the One who would unite her son eventually with Him. St. Monica, the woman who one time carried her little son as a small child, wished to carry him in her bosom of faith during his most troubled times. Again--how very human! No doubt my soldier friend's mother prayed for him while he was away at war. No doubt my mother prays for me! Likewise, behind each and every human being there is someone who cares for him and prays for him. Even the most forgotten person on the streets of Darfur has a cloistered Carmelite praying for him. Do not underestimate these prayers! God's grace motivates and goads us into action--sometimes we don't know whence it comes. Likely, it comes from our mothers, even our spiritual ones.

When Augustine did finally convert, he recognized the many prayers that his mother offered for his soul and his conversion. Truly one of the most moving episodes in the Confessions is the Augustine's recounting of his mother's death. The Latin is so beautiful it bears reproduction here:

Ad haec ei quid responderim, non satis recolo, cum interea vix intra quinque dies aut non multo amplius decubuit febribus. et cum aegrotaret, quodam die defectum animae passa est et paululum subtracta a praesentibus. nos concurrimus, sed cito reddita est sensui, et aspexit astantes me et fratrem meum et ait nobis quasi quaerenti similis: ubi eram? deinde nos intuens maerore attonitos: ponitis hic inquit matrem vestram. ego silebam et fletum frenabam. frater autem meus quiddam locutus est, quo eam non in peregre, sed in patria defungi tamquam felicius optaret. quo audito illa vultu anxio, reverberans eum oculis, quod talia saperet, atque inde me intuens: vide ait quid dicit. et mox ambobus: ponite inquit hoc corpus ubicumque: nihil vos eius cura conturbet; tantum illud vos rogo, ut ad domini altare memineritis mei, ubiubi fueritis. cumque hanc sententiam verbis quibus poterat explicasset, conticuit et ingravescente morbo exercebatur. Ego vero cogitans dona tua, deus invisibilis, quae immittis in corda fidelium tuorum, et proveniunt inde fruges admirabiles, gaudebam et gratias tibi agebam, recolens, quod noveram, quanta cura semper aestuasset de sepulchro, quod sibi providerat et praeparaverat iuxta corpus viri sui. quia enim valde concorditer vixerant, id etiam volebat, ut est animus humanus minus capax divinorum, adiungi ad illam felicitatem et conmemorari ab hominibus, concessum sibi esse post transmarinam peregrinationem, ut coniuncta terra amborum coniugum terra tegeretur. quando autem ista inanitas plenitudine bonitatis tuae coeperat in eius corde non esse, nesciebam; et laetabar admirans, quod sic mihi apparuisset, quamquam et in illo sermone nostro ad fenestram, cum dixit; iam quid hic facio? non apparuit desiderare in patria mori. audivi etiam postea, quod iam, cum Ostiis essemus, cum quibusdam amicis meis materna fiducia conloquebatur quodam die, de contemtu vitae huius et bono mortis, ubi ipse non aderam, illisque stupentibus virtutem feminae -- quoniam tu dederas ei -- quaerentibusque, utrum non formidaret tam longe a sua civitate corpus relinquere: nihil inquit longe est deo, neque timendum est, ne ille non agnoscat in fine saeculi, unde me resuscitet. ergo die nono aegritudinis suae, quinquagensimo et sexto anno aetatis suae, tricensimo et tertio aetatis meae, anima illa religiosa et pia corpore soluta est. (Confessions, Book IX, Chapter 11.)

and,

Sit ergo in pace cum viro, ante quem nulli et post quem nulli nupta est, cui servivit fructum tibi afferens cum tolerantia, ut eum quoque lucraretur tibi. et inspira, domine meus, deus meus, inspira servis tuis, fratribus meis, filiis tuis, dominis meis, quibus et corde et voce et litteris servio, ut quotquot hoc legerint, meminerint ad altare tuum Monnicae, famulae tuae, cum Patricio, quondam eius coniuge, per quorum carnem introduxisti me in hanc vitam, quemadmodum nescio. meminerint cum affectu pio parentum meorum in hac luce transitoria, et fratrum meorum sub te patre in matre catholica, et civium meorum in aeterna Hierusalem, cui suspirat peregrinatio populi tui ab exitu usque ad reditum, tu quod a me illa poposcit extremum uberius ei praestetur in multorum orationibus per confessiones quam per orationes meas. (Confessions, Book IX, Chapter 13.)



St. Augustine pray for us and those who pray for us.

|