Tag Archives: St Augustine of Hippo




Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, was the son of another Ambrose, a Roman citizen, and received a liberal education at Rome. Under the Prefect Probus, he was made governor of Liguria and Aemilia, and by his command, came with authority to Milan. When the Arian Bishop, Auxentius, died, the most violent disputes arose among the people about a choice of a successor.


Ambrose came to the church in his official capacity, and urged upon the contending factions, in a long and powerful speech, the necessity of keeping the public peace, whereupon a child suddenly cried out “Ambrose, Bishop,” and the whole assembly took it up and unanimously called for his election. Whereupon he was baptised (for he was still a catechumen) and was admitted to sacred orders. Having ascended all the degrees of orders as prescribed by the Church, he was raised to the rank of Bishop.


In this office he strenuously defended Catholic truth and the Church’s laws, not only by word, but also in his writings. He converted to the true faith many Arians and other heretics, among whom he begot St Augustine in Jesus Christ. Having borne so many labours and cares for the Church of God, he died on the day before the Nones of April in the year 397.


O God, you who have given blessed Ambrose to your people as a help for eternal salvation, grant, we beseech you, that we may be worthy to have him as our intercessor in heaven whom we have had as a teacher of life on earth.

– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964


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O God, be propitious to me and guard me all the days of my life! be merciful unto me, and send to my aid thine Archangel, St Michael, that he may defend me against my enemies.

Holy Archangel, St Michael, protect me against all dangers, that I may not perish on the day of judgment. By the grace thou hast merited, and through Our Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, I beseech thee to deliver me from the perils of death.

St Gabriel, St Raphael, Holy Angels and Archangels, come to my aid. Virtues of heaven, be my help and my strength, that no enemy may be able to injure me either by water or by fire, or while journeying; protect me from a sudden and unprovided death, and grant that, sleeping or waking, I may be freed from all danger. Amen.

– St Anthony’s Treasury, 1916


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At that time, Jesus said to the Pharisees: “Amen, amen, I say to you, he who enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up another way, is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door, is shepherd of the sheep.” And so forth. John1:1-10 

Homily of St Augustine, Bishop

In the words of the Gospel which are read today, the Lord has spoken to us in Similitude’s of his flock, and of the door, by which the sheepfold is to be entered. Let the pagans, therefore, say: “We lead good lives!” If they do not enter by the door, what does that profit them in which them in which they glory? A good life is profitable to man if it leads to life everlasting, but if he is not to have life everlasting, what shall his good life profit him? Because they cannot be said to live well, who either through blindness are ignorant of the very end of all good living, or through pride despise the same. But no man has a true and certain hope of living forever, unless he acknowledge the life which is Christ, and enter by the door in the sheepfold.

Such men as these, therefore, for the most part, try to persuade men to live well, and yet not to be Christians. They wish to climb up another way, to steal and to kill; not, like the good shepherd, to keep and to save. And so there have been certain philosophers, holding many subtle discussions upon the virtues and vices; dividing, defining, reasoning out very clever arguments, filling volumes, airing their own wisdom with loud trumpets; who would even dare to say to others: “Follow us; keep to our sect if you would live happily.” But they did not enter by the door; they wished to destroy, to slay, and to kill.

What shall I say of these men? Behold, the Pharisees themselves were wont to read of Christ, and, in that very reading, their voices re-echoed Christ, they hoped for his coming, and yet did not recognise him while he was with them. They boasted that they themselves were among the seers, that is, among the wise, but they denied Christ, and entered not in by the door. Therefore, they chanced to lead them away to slay and to kill them, not to deliver them. So much for them. Let us look to those who glory in the name of Christ himself, and see whether even they by chance are entering in by the door. For there are countless numbers who do not only boast that they are prophets, but would have it appear that they are enlightened by Christ; yet they are heretics.

– St Augustine, Treatise 45 on John; from: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964

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Posted by on May 11, 2016 in Words of Wisdom


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On “20th July, one of the saints remembered by the Church is St Aurelius. In the late fourth century he was ordained Bishop of Carthage, which today is in Tunisia. At that time there were two heresies which needed to be countered and St Aurelius played a significant part in promulgating what was true Catholic teaching. These heresies, and then Catholic teaching, are summarised below:


The first heresy was Donatism. This heresy had implications both for the sacrament of confession and the other sacraments in general. Donatists believed that the sacrament of confession could not reconcile certain sinners back into full communion with the Church. This was in the context of certain clerics having previously gone against the Church during times of persecution. The Donatists had a rigorist position against them returning to the Church. The other belief of the Donatists which needed to be countered was their insistence that by sinful acts priests made themselves unable to celebrate valid sacraments. St Aurelius proclaimed the truth of the Catholic Faith that the sacrament of confession was precisely for everyone who repented and that there was a way back to full communion with the Church.

Also that the validity of any sacrament depended on the holiness of God, the priest being a mere instrument of God’s work. So any priest, even one in a state of sin, who speaks the formula of the sacrament with valid matter, as laid down by the Church, and with the intent of causing the sacrament to occur, acts validly. For example, a Catholic who receives the Eucharist from the hands of a priest, even if he has sinned, still receives Christ’s Body and Blood, their own sacramental life being undamaged by the priest’s sins.


The other heresy to be countered was that of Pelagianism. This taught that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will was still capable of choosing good or evil without God’s help. Human will alone was sufficient to live a sinless life and that human beings can earn their own salvation by their own efforts.

The Council of Carthage at that time corrected these errors. The statements include the teaching that death did not come to Adam from a physical necessity, but through sin; newborn babies must be baptised on account of original sin; justifying grace not only avails for the forgiveness of past sins, but also gives assistance for the avoidance of future sins; without God’s grace it is not merely more difficult, but impossible to perform good works; not out of humility, but in truth we must confess ourselves to be sinners.

St Aurelius became a good friend of St Augustine of Hippo and the two of them, in writing and spoken word, actively confronted the teachings and tactics of these heretics. St Aurelius died in the year 430.”

From: “Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris”/2015


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“Christian, if in the midst of worldly, unfaithful, imperfect hearts, there was one adorned with all the most beautiful and precious qualities, would you not feel obliged to love it?

That is what the Heart of Jesus is

That is exactly what the Heart of Jesus is. This heart contains an abundance and super-abundance of all that is likeable to you. If you are pleased by beauty, goodness and virtue, you will find these things in both human and divine measure. If you find affection, tenderness and mercy admirable, this is the most affectionate, tender and admirable of all Hearts.

You can make it your ark, your refuge

You can make it your ark, your refuge, the place where you bring your problems, your eternal home. If it is love you are after, you will find everything that makes up the love of the angels and saints, of Mary and the Holy Trinity and of all of paradise.

In floods of tears, St Augustine said, ‘You  have conquered me, Lord. The fear of death or of your judgements or the terrors of hell did not move me, it was the love of your heart that changed me.'”

– Mons. Nicola Tafuri

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Posted by on July 8, 2015 in Words of Wisdom


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“Jesus says to his friends in the boat who were terrified at the storm, ‘How is it that you have no faith?’ Let us prayerfully reflect on what some holy people have written about faith:

• Faith is the ear of the soul. (St Clement of Alexandria)

• Just as the mere memory of fire does not warm the body, so also faith without love doesn’t produce the light of knowledge in the soul. (St Maximus the Confessor)

• Without faith, every human labour is empty. (St Fulgence of Ruspe)

• I may love by halves, I may obey by halves; I cannot believe by halves: either I have faith, or I have it not. (Blessed John Henry Newman)

• The spiritual quest is a continuous act of faith, a faith that spiritual experience is the most real thing in human life and that all other categories of experience are subordinate to the fact of God. (Martin Israel – priest and spiritual director)

• Faith is the union of God with the soul. (St John of the Cross)

• What is required of you is faith and a sincere life, not loftiness and intellect of deep knowledge of the mysteries of God. (Thomas a Kempis – spiritual writer)

• Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward for this faith is to see what you believe. (St Augustine of Hippo)

• Faith is a beam radiating from the face of God. (St John Dudes)

• God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ increase us in faith and truth and gentleness. (Prayer of St Polycarp)”

– From: “Spiritual Thought from Fr Chris” / June 2015


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“…Even as I write, Western politicians are talking about ‘the right thing to do’ and ‘making Assad pay’ yet Assad’s use of chemical weapons is, at the moment, merely a probability rather than a proven fact and there is the disturbing sense that ‘making Assad pay’ is a long way from anything approaching a Just War.


Since the idea of a Just War is often invoked, it may be helpful to consider the Church’s teaching on the subject. St Augustine of Hippo was quite clear that the only just reason for going to war was the desire for peace. Wanting to punish someone, even for an illegal act (using chemical weapons), is not the same as desiring peace. If we look at later elaboration of the Just War theory by St Thomas Aquinas we find that three requirements must be met:

• 1. LEGITIMATE AUTHORITY, with the duty of preserving the common good, must declare the war.

• 2. There must be JUST CAUSE.

• 3. The warring party must have the RIGHT INTENTION, so that they intend the advancement of good or the avoidance of evil.

In the case of Western intervention in Syria, who has the authority to declare war? Does an individual nation state, such as the United States of America or Britain, or even the United Nations? Russia has already warned that acting without a mandate from the Security Council places any military enterprise on legally doubtful ground, and I must say I concur. We do not have the duty of preserving the common good inside another nation state.

A ‘just cause’ will always be arguable, but examination of intention is more difficult still. Few nations are entirely open about their motives and the complicated web of alliances and counter-alliances in the Middle East takes some untangling. We cannot pretend that chemical weapons have never been used before (think attacks on Kurds) or that there are no other interests at play in the Middle East that would make regime change in Syria (officially not on the agenda) desirable. It all begins to get a little sticky.

It gets stickier still when we consider three more requirements for a Just War:

• 1. War must always be a LAST RESORT, only engaged in when all other means of resolving differences or righting wrongs have been exhausted.

• 2. There must be PROPORTIONALITY, so that whatever good may be achieved is not outweighed by the harm that will result.


Have we truly exhausted all diplomatic avenues, or has the present coolness between the USA and Russia made it impossible to obtain unanimity at the United Nations? With proportionality and a reasonable probability of success we enter a very fraught area. Missile strikes and drone attacks are not, despite what their advocates say, 100 per cent accurate. Civilians will be killed, among them women and children. Innocent casualties of war, of course, but should they ever be placed in the firing-line?

Finally, there is that reasonable probability of success. Is there anyone who would dare to assess that?

In the West we tend to view Arabs and Muslims as one and the same. We don’t see the differences or make any real attempt to understand them. As a result, we don’t understand why our version of democracy is so unpopular, nor why the values dear to us are less so to others. Unless we can make that imaginative leap, all appeals to a Just War will be fruitless. We shall simply be imposing our own ideas about right and wrong and multiplying the bloodshed. Worse still, we shall be storing up hatreds and resentments for future generations. If, at this point, I urge prayer, it is not because I think we can do nothing else. It is because I think it is the most important thing we can do. Only God can save us from ourselves.”
– This article by Sr Catherine Wybourne entitled “In time of war, only God can save us from ourselves” was published in “The Catholic Universe” issue Sunday 8th September, 2013. For subscriptions please visit (external link).

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Posted by on September 13, 2013 in Prayers for Ordinary Time


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