Saints & Angels

The Words of Saint Augustine of Hippo

Listed below are some of the teachings of St. Augustine of Hippo. This is the complementary blog post to Saint Augustine of Hippo – Doctor of Grace.

On the Importance of Infant Baptism – “Whoever says that those children who depart out of this life without partaking of that sacrament shall be made alive in Christ, certainly contradicts the apostolic declaration, and condemns the universal Church, in which it is the practice to lose no time and run in haste to administer baptism to infant children, because it is believed, as an indubitable truth, that otherwise they cannot be made alive in Christ.” – Letters, I66:7:21

No one is completely immune from concupiscence – “Many baptized believers are without crime, but I should say that no one in this life is without sin, — however much the Pelagians are inflated, and burst asunder in madness against me because I say this: not because there remains anything of sin which is not remitted in baptism; but because by us who remain in the weakness of this life such sins do not cease daily to be committed, as are daily remitted to those who pray in faith and work in mercy.” – Against Two Letters of the Pelagians, Bk. I, Chap. 14

For every good salutary work grace is absolutely necessary – “I have fought’, says [Paul] ‘the good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith’ (2 Tim. 4:7). Now, in the first place, these good works were nothing, unless they had been preceded by good thoughts. Observe, therefore what he says concerning these very thoughts. His words, when writing to the Corinthians, are: ‘Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God’ (2 Cor. 3:5).” – On Grace and Free Will, Chap. 7:16

On the notion of Religion – “Religious honor to the memory of the martyrs, both to excite us to imitate them, and to obtain a share in their merits, and the assistance of their prayers. But we build altars not to any martyr, but to the God of martyrs, although it is to the memory of the martyrs. No one officiating at the altar in the saints’ burying-place ever says, ‘we bring an offering to you, O Peter! or O Paul! or O Cyprian!’ The offering is made to God who gave the crown of martyrdom…What is properly divine worship, which the Greeks call latria, and for which there is no word in Latin, both in doctrine and in practice we give only to God.” – Reply to Faustus the Manichaean Book 20, Chapter 21.

The Church is necessary for Salvation – “One cannot have [salvation] except in the Catholic Church. Outside of the Catholic Church one can have everything except salvation. One can have honor, one can have the sacraments, one can sing alleluia, one can answer Amen, one can have the Gospel, one can have faith in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and preach, but never can one find salvation except in the Catholic Church.” – Sermon to the People of the Church of Caesarea, Chapter 6.

The progress in dogma should not be rejected – “For while the hot restlessness of heretics stirs questions about many articles of the Catholic faith, the necessity of defending them forces us to both investigate them more accurately, to understand them more clearly, and to proclaim them more earnestly.” – The City of God, Book 16, Chapter 2.

St. Augustine of Hippo

Grace does not destroy free will – “The freedom of the will is not destroyed by being helped; it is rather helped because it is not destroyed. He who says to God: ‘Be my helper’ (Ps. 26:9), confesses that he wishes to carry out what is commanded, but asks help of Him who gave the command so that he may be able to do it.” – Letter to Hilary, No. 157, 2:10.

Mary is Ever-Virgin (after Christ’s birth) –“Thus Christ by being born of a virgin, who, before she knew Who was to be born of her, had determined to continue a virgin, chose rather to approve, than to command, holy virginity. And thus, even in the female herself, in whom He took the form of a servant, He willed that virginity should be free.” – On Holy Virginity 4:4.

The Eucharist was instituted by Christ to remember his Passion and Death  – “’Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man,’ Christ says, ‘and drink his blood, you have no life in you’ (Jn. 6:54). This seems to enjoin a crime or a vice; it is therefore a figure, enjoining that we should have a share in the sufferings of our Lord, and that we should retain a sweet and profitable memory of the fact that His flesh was wounded and crucified for us.” – On Christian Doctrine, Book 3, Chapter 16

Praying for those in Purgatory – “In the books of the Maccabees we read of sacrifice offered for the dead. Even if it were nowhere at all read in the Old Scriptures, not small is the authority, which in this usage is clear, of the whole Church, namely, that in the prayers of the priest which are offered to the Lord God at His altar, the commendation of the dead has also its place.” – On Care to be had for the Dead, Chapter I:3.

The object of beatitude is God alone – “And man, being a part of your creation, desires to praise you. You move us to delight in praising You; for You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in you.” – Confessions, Book 1, Chapter 1.

Man is composed of body and soul – “And inasmuch as there are three things of which man consists, – namely, spirit, soul, and body – which again are spoken of as two, because frequently the soul is named along with the spirit; for a certain rational position of the same, of which beasts are devoid, is called spirit: the principal part in us is the spirit.” – On Faith and the Creed, Chap. 10:23.

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