Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

5/16/2014 (5 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Bishop Augustine was reflecting on the first letter which the beloved disciple John wrote to the early Christians. In characteristic Patristic style, the good Bishop always weaves the biblical text in between his inspired exposition.This manner of reflecting on the biblical text - responding to it - returning to it - and reflecting again, reveals an intimate communion with the Living Word, Jesus Christ. It is He who is revealed in the written word. He comes and reveals Himself to all who live their lives in communion with Him. Clearly Augustine did - and we can do so as well. The key which unlocks the door to this way of life is prayer. A Christian who does not pray is like a human person who does not breathe. Jesus Christ is alive. He is Risen. He is available to you and me as He was to Augustine.

St. Augustine of Hippo

St. Augustine of Hippo

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/16/2014 (5 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Augustine, St Augustine, Commandments to love, charity, caritas, Lectio Divina, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - I am happy to present two excerpts from the great writings of the Western Bishop of Hippo, Augustine. They are taken from the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours, the official prayer of the Catholic Church.

The Bishop Augustine was reflecting on the first letter which the beloved disciple John wrote to the early Christians. In characteristic Patristic style, the good Bishop always weaves the biblical text in between his inspired exposition.

This manner of reflecting on the biblical text - responding to it - returning to it - and reflecting again, reveals an intimate communion with the Living Word, Jesus Christ. It is He who is revealed in the written word. He comes and reveals Himself to all who live their lives in communion with Him.

Clearly Augustine did - and we can do so as well. The key which unlocks the door to this way of life is prayer. A Christian who does not pray is like a human person who does not breathe. Jesus Christ is alive. He is Risen. He is available to you and me as He was to Augustine.

This style of approaching the Bible was perpetuated in the Western Church through the practice of Lectio Divina, praying the Scriptures.The Bible is an invitation into an encounter with the living God for every Christian.

Its words are not a formula to obtain some kind of success in life, but an invitation into a communion of Love with the Living Word which is meant to bear the fruit of a new way of living in the Lord.We read the written word in order to encounter Jesus the Living Word.

The Bible is not some-thing, but reveals Some-One. In the words of St. Paul to Timothy, all Scripture is inspired by God. (2 Tim. 3:16) The Greek means God-breathed. They reveal Jesus Christ and our encounter with Him is the heart of what it means to be a Christian.

As a young man, I searched for meaning and purpose in my life beyond the emptiness and materialism of the age. My search eventually they led to an encounter with the One who is the "Way, the Truth and the Life" (Jn. 14:6) and home to the Catholic Christian faith. One of the first fruits of this encounter was an unquenchable attraction to the Bible.

I wanted to understand its meaning for my life. I spent nearly two years in a Benedictine Monastery where I began reading the Fathers of the Church and practicing what is called Lectio Divina. It has carried me for years as I have continued the journey of following the Risen Jesus in His Church.

The early Christians received the scriptures as a gift. They knew that the sacred words were to lead to a deeper communion of love with their source, the Living Word of God. Early theologians were mystics. My favorite definition of a theologian is from the Monk Evagrius of Pontus, someone who "rests his head on the chest of Christ."

The image calls to mind the beloved disciple, John, depicted as doing just that in early Christian art. It also speaks of the indispensable prerequisite for any fruitful study of the Bible, a relationship with the Lord in the intimacy of prayer. Prayer must be practiced if it is to be perfected.

Early Christians viewed the reading of Scripture as a way of encountering the Living Word, who gives Himself as bread to those who feed on this written Word. This practice is kept alive in the Christian monastic tradition, particularly among Benedictines in the West. It is embedded in the Eastern Christian tradition and especially evident in the writings of the early Church fathers.

They wrote in a sort of stream of scriptural consciousness, moving from inspired thoughts to actual biblical quotes and back; most often without any reference to the specific "chapter and verse". The text was living within them. To use a phrase from my childhood they "knew it by heart."

This way of encountering the Lord in His Word can be cultivated in our lives. It involves meeting the Lord in His word and being changed, converted, in that encounter. It can inform a rhythmic way of life steeped in the practice of the presence of God throughout the day.

Participation in the rich and beautiful pattern of the Liturgical life of the Church, filled as it is with the Biblical texts that are arranged for the faithful every day, helps to develop this rhythm. This kind of prayer brings the word to life and changes the one engaged in it into the One whom they experience in the encounter.

*****
St. Augustine: The Word Became Flesh and Revealed Life Itself

We announce what existed from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our own eyes, what we have touched with our own hands. Who could touch the Word with his hands unless the Word was made flesh and lived among us?
 
Now this Word, whose flesh was so real that he could be touched by human hands, began to be flesh in the Virgin Mary's womb; but he did not begin to exist at that moment. We know this from what John says: What existed from the beginning. Notice how John's letter bears witness to his Gospel, which you just heard a moment ago: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.
 
Someone might interpret the phrase the Word of life to mean a word about Christ, rather than Christ's body itself which was touched by human hands. But consider what comes next: and life itself was revealed. Christ therefore is himself the Word of life.
 
And how was this life revealed? It existed from the beginning, but was not revealed to men, only to angels, who looked upon it and feasted upon it as their own spiritual bread. But what does Scripture say? Mankind ate the bread of angels.
 
Life itself was therefore revealed in the flesh. In this way what was visible to the heart alone could become visible also to the eye, and so heal men's hearts. For the Word is visible to the heart alone, while flesh is visible to bodily eyes as well. We already possessed the means to see the flesh, but we had no means of seeing the Word. The Word was made flesh so that we could see it, to heal the part of us by which we could see the Word.
 
John continues: And we are witnesses and we proclaim to you that eternal life which was with the Father and has been revealed among us - one might say more simply "revealed to us."
 
We proclaim to you what we have heard and seen. Make sure that you grasp the meaning of these words. The disciples saw our Lord in the flesh, face to face; they heard the words he spoke, and in turn they proclaimed the message to us. So we also have heard, although we have not seen.
 
Are we then less favored than those who both saw and heard? If that were so, why should John add: so that you too may have fellowship with us? They saw, and we have not seen; yet we have fellowship with them, because we and they share the same faith.
 
And our fellowship is with God the Father and Jesus Christ his Son. And we write this to you to make your joy complete - complete in that fellowship, in that love and in that unity.


St. Augustine on the new commandment to Love

The Lord Jesus declares that he is giving his disciples a new commandment, that they should love one another: I give you a new commandment: love one another.

But wasn't this commandment already part of the ancient law of God, where it is written You shall love your neighbor as yourself? Why, then, is it called a new one by the Lord, when it is really so old? Is it new because he has divested us of our old humanity and clothed us with the new? It is true that love renews those who listen to it (or rather, those who act in obedience to it) but it is that particular love which the Lord distinguished from all carnal affection by adding love one another as I have loved you.

This is the love that renews us, making us new men, heirs of the New Testament, singers of the new song. It was this love, my beloved brethren, that renewed the patriarchs and prophets of old, and later renewed the blessed apostles. This is the love that is now renewing the nations, and from among the universal race of man, which overspreads the whole world, is making and gathering together a new people, the body of the newly-married spouse of the only-begotten Son of God. Of her the Song of Songs says, Who is she who is coming up, clothed in white? Clothed in white because she has been renewed; and how else can she have been renewed but by the new commandment?

Because of this, the members of the people of God have a mutual interest in one another; and if one member suffers then all the members suffer with it; and if one member is honoured then all the members rejoice with it. For this they hear and this they observe: I give you a new commandment: love one another: not as people who pretend to love in order to corrupt one another, nor indeed as people love one another genuinely but in a human way.

Rather, they love one another as those who belong to God. All of them are children of the Most High and consequently brethren of his only Son. They share with each other the love with which he leads them to the end that will bring them fulfilment and the true satisfaction of their real desires. For when God is all in all, there is no desire that is unfulfilled.

This love is bestowed on us by him who said, Just as I have loved you, you also must love one another. He loved us so that we should love one another. By loving us he bound us to one another in mutual love, and by this gentle bond united us into the body of which he is the most noble Head.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.



Comments


More U.S.

United States developing quick-strike team to deal with Ebola Watch

Image of The U.S. Ebola strike team will include five doctors, 20 nurses and five trainers, Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In response to the crisis in Dallas, the United States is developing a 30-person "quick-strike team" in order to attend to the needs of Ebola patients within the U.S. The team will be under orders to deploy within 72 hours at any time over the next month. The ... continue reading


After 21 days, the family of Thomas Eric Duncan are Ebola free Watch

Image of Thomas Eric Duncan's family, including his fiancee and her son and nephews, are nearing the end of their 21 day quarantine. So far, none of the four have developed Ebola like symptoms.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The fiancee of Thomas Eric Duncan-the first man diagnosed with Ebola in the United States-is nearing the end of a 21 day quarantine, and she and her son and two nephews are grateful that this period is coming to an end. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - If ... continue reading


Supreme Court backs Texas' war on voter fraud Watch

Image of The U.S. Supreme Court has backed a 2013 Texas law that requires voters to show ID before they submit a vote.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The U.S. Supreme Court has given Texas the go ahead for a law that requires voters in the state to show certain forms of identification before they are able to cast a ballot. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The October 18 decision came from a majority of ... continue reading


Father Peter M. J. Stravinskas on the Synod on the Family: Duc in Altum

Image of Lorenzo Lotto's depiction of the Holy Family's rest on the flight into Egypt.

By Father Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D.

Christians today in most parts of the world find themselves in a world much like the one inhabited by the first Christians - rampant sexual license, abortion, contraception, family break-down.  Those early Christians took a counter-cultural stance, echoing ... continue reading


(Video) Nina Pham's incredible goodbye will bring you to tears Watch

Image of Supporters of Nina Pham, the nurse who was infected with Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has released a video which shows the goodbye between Ebola-patient Nina Pham and her doctor, as she leaves Dallas for treatment in Maryland. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The 26-year-old nurse was infected with Ebola after ... continue reading


(Video) South Carolina's shocking SHARKNADO! Watch

Image of A rare shark feeding frenzy was caught on video in North Carolina, as hundreds of sharks attacked a school of Blue Fish.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An amazing video has appeared on YouTube which shows 100 of sharks engaged in a feeding frenzy just feet from the shore in Cape Lookout, North Carolina. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The bizarre video was taken on October 9, but was not made public until ... continue reading


Fed takes in record of over $3 trillion in taxes Watch

Image of A Treasury Department report has revealed that the U.S. government has taken in a record amount of tax revenue for the 2014 fiscal year, at over $3 trillion.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The latest Monthly Treasury Statement has showed that inflation-adjusted federal tax revenues and tax revenues have reached their highest point even as of the 2014 fiscal year. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The inflation-adjusted tax revenue reached ... continue reading


James Robison: Turn In Your Sermons! Watch

Image of James and Betty Robison

By James Robison

The city of Houston has issued a wake up call to all freedom-loving Americans by ordering pastors to turn in their sermons and staff communications dealing with homosexuality, gender identity, and Mayor Annise Parker. You must hear the real message loud and clear ... continue reading


He doesn't even care anymore. Government draws in $3 trillion after numerous tax hikes Watch

Image of The U.S. government took in over $3 trillion dollars in taxes for fiscal year 2014.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The U.S. government has collected a record amount of taxes for the 2014 fiscal year, topping $3 trillion in revenue for the first time in history, numbers from the Treasury Department revealed. The data also showed that this influx of cash has brought the current ... continue reading


Trying to win a Darwin Award? Man seen walking next to Ebola patient with clipboard for protection Watch

Image of Who is this man and why isn't he protected like the others?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Maybe he's trying to win a Darwin Award? The nation is aghast at a plainclothes man who appears to be coolly walking beside Ebola-infected nurse, Amber Vinson protected only by --a clipboard. Everyone else around him was dressed in a hazmat suit as she was placed ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 2:1-10
1 And you were dead, through the crimes and the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 100:2, 3, 4, 5
2 serve Yahweh with gladness, come into his presence ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:13-21
13 A man in the crowd said to him, 'Master, tell my ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 20th, 2014 Image

St. Paul of the Cross
October 20: St. Paul of the Cross was born at Ovada in the Republic of ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter