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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Perfection Series IV: Part Six; St. Augustine And Persecution

Garrigou-Lagrange refered to Augustine's Sermon on the Mount in his section on the Beatitudes, but before I had read the footnotes, I was reading some of Augustine's sermons and came across it myself. I have also been dipping into The Confessions again as well, and did not realize until I have been re-reading it after so many years how much Augustine has to tell us of the way of perfection in an immediate manner.

I love synchronicity. I had read this section in Garrigou-Lagrange and shared some of this with you almost, if not, two years ago, but the bringing about of the insights as to the reality of their meaning had to "sit" in me for awhile.

Here is the Dominican's footnote. He uses this sermon extensively in his section on the Illuminative State

26. St. Augustine, In sermonem Domini in monte (Matt. 5). De quantitate animae, I, chap. 33; The Confessions, Bk. IX, chap. 10; Soliloquia, I, chaps. 1, 12 f.
But, the topic of this post has to do with Augustine on persecution and the stages of holiness.

In Sermon 96, the great Doctor of the Church preaches on persecution, a reality in his day and the need for holiness.

As in the City of God, Augustine in this sermons talks about two worlds, the world of the good and the world of the bad. God created the world good, but men created the bad world.

He states that man made the world bad and Christ came and made it good. But, the world persecutes the world of Christ.

We see this daily. The main thrust of this sermon is on the renunciation of self, which happens in the Dark Night. Augustine points out that only the person who has already picked up his cross and is following Christ can face martyrdom.

The Church is the world reconciled to Christ and this is the Church which is persecuted by those who choose evil in the world.

What has to do with the Illuminative State? Those who have entered this level of holiness willingly accept the cross which Christ has given, in joy. Those in the Illuminative State do the work of God and not the work of their egos.

A true martyr dies for Christ, not for himself. A true martyr dies for the Church, the Pope, the redeemed world of Christ, which is His Church.

Only those who in some way have already died to self can face the ultimate test of the renunciation of the body, and the likely pain involved. The Illumination of the mind, the senses, the heart, the soul, the intellect allow one to freely choose, in joy, death.

In Sermon 296, Augustine tells his congregation to have patience, to grow in patience. This patience is connected to the Will of God.  He actually refers to the capture of Rome in this sermon. Augustine is preaching in a great time of persecution and diaspora.  He says, "What Christ is guarding for you, can the Goth take away from you?"

This is going to become one of my pet phrases. Die to self and you will be able to die for Christ. Allow God to bring you into the state of Light which will overcome any persecution.

Augustine notes that although it seems like the wicked prosper, in reality God is holding back correction because of His Just Wrath.

Those who have the Eyes of Christ, those who have put on the Mind of Christ, will withstand persecution to share in Christ's Glory.

Out of the Dark Night, comes such Light full of the virtues and graces to do the Will of God in the world.

The book I am using for these is St. Augustine, Essential Sermons, translated by Edmund Hill.

to be continued....