Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Homily for Memorial of St. Augustine

Homily for the Memorial
of St. Augustine
Aug. 28, 2013
Provincial House, New Rochelle

In the Collect we prayed that we might be filled with the “same spirit” Augustine had, to “thirst for” and to “seek” the Lord, “fount of true wisdom” and “author of heavenly love.”

St. Augustine as portrayed
in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin
Augustine’s whole life was a thirsting for and a seeking of wisdom and love.  As we know, initially he looked in the wrong places—in sensuality, from stealing pears to living in concubinage; and in false philosophies and human learning.

But his search was sincere, and eventually he found the beginnings of wisdom and love in his Creator and his Redeemer.  That beginning wasn’t the end of his searching.  His thirst and his seeking were insatiable, and he spent the rest of his life pondering the truths, the mysteries, of the Faith in his reflections upon his own experience (the Confessions, works on sin and human freedom), on the Scriptures (numerous commentaries and sermons), on the Creed (works on the Trinity, on catechetics, and against various heretical teachings), and on current events (The City of God).

The Collect asked God to “renew in” his Church Augustine’s spirit.  Augustine’s pursuit of wisdom wasn’t only for himself but for everyone.  He was no ivory tower theologian.  He was a shepherd:  teaching his clergy and others in his circle how to live as Christians (the roots of the Augustinian monastic rule), engaging in extensive correspondence, offering a liberal hospitality, taking great care of the poor with his personal funds and those of the Church.

We might dare to call Augustine a contemplative in action, a man whose love for God and study of divine truth led him to practical love of neighbor—which, of course, is what the Gospel calls us to, and the radical renewal of our own Congregation demands.

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