Has Augustine Become Irrelevant?
Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – “Our brothers and sisters out there, unfortunately not all of them are not brothers and sisters in Christ, but our brothers and sisters are corrupt. We’re corrupt. My pursuit of an upward flight, your pursuit of an upward flight, of animating your soul requires all of your effort, all of it, not some of it, all of it. This is why the virtues are to be pursued.” Check out today’s transcript for the rest….
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: The problems that we collectively face here — Obamacare is one of them. You can just identify all of them. We have more problems than we have with our politics. We have mainly political problems because we have corrupt people, ladies and gentlemen. Our brothers and sisters out there, unfortunately not all of them are not brothers and sisters in Christ, but our brothers and sisters are corrupt. We’re corrupt. My pursuit of an upward flight, your pursuit of an upward flight, of animating your soul requires all of your effort, all of it, not some of it, all of it. This is why the virtues are to be pursued. Men need to be men, real men. Take charge of your household. We talked about this at the end of the year. Be the prayer leader. Be the prophet. Be the knight.
I want to read something to you about the idea here behind getting some of the spiritual things correct, the virtuous things correct. We tend to think that we’re the smartest people that ever lived because we can send some piece of metal to go crash into a comet and we can photograph it while we’re doing it.
That makes us the smartest people that ever lived. No, that makes us good mathematicians. It doesn’t make us the smartest people. It makes us some of the people that have figured out some new ways to use mathematics. That’s what it makes us. It doesn’t make anyone that’s alive today any smarter than Aristotle, any smarter than Cicero, any smarter certainly that Christ himself, any smarter than St. Augustine. It should go without saying. I shouldn’t have to say this.
I shouldn’t have to discover this when I’m 50 years old, that the greatest autobiography of a secular person — of course, there’s the greatest biography of a divine person or the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — but the greatest secular biography ever written, certainly in the Western world, is St. Augustine’s Confessions. Read it. Get yourself a copy and read it. You might have to read some passages a couple of times because it might not make sense the first go round. That’s okay. I didn’t get it the first time either. I had to read many of those paragraphs a couple times. You’ll get the basic premise, though.
Father John Hardon posts this last year, “The Two Cities of St. Augustine.” He posts this in the hopes that modern man will lose our arrogance, embrace our humility — we’re not the smartest people that ever lived. We have a lot to learn from the old doctors and fathers of the Church and of Christianity. We ought to resign ourselves to these tasks instead of being so arrogant and going, [mocking] “He lived in the 4th Century. Why would I want to read that?” Lots of reasons. Father Hardon writes about Augustine:
Almost everything he wrote is worth knowing, and many of his statements are worth memorizing. But his two best known works are the Confessions and The City of God. Surely the most popular autobiography in world literature, the Confessions are merciless in their admission of the author’s guilt for his willful refusal to submit to the divine will. But they are mainly a chronology of grateful prayers in praise of the mercy of God.
Augustine’s problem before his conversion was not only that he was steeped in sin. It was that his mind defended his commission of sin. . . .
To return to God, Augustine had to overcome two vices, the habit of wrong thinking and the habit of wrong doing. . . .
In order to justify his misconduct, Augustine had become a Manichaean. This was the convenient heresy of claiming there were two gods. The evil god is responsible for all the evil that we do, and the good god is the only cause of everything good in our lives.
Mike: Folks, we have this today. The evil god is government, the State. The good God is the god that blesses us with things like Christmas presents. The exact same thing, the exact same heresy is in effect today, and our government has become our civic religion, if not an outright religion. Back to Father Hardon:
Mike: How many times have you heard that things wouldn’t be so screwed up if our government wasn’t so screwed up? The heresy is identical. There is no difference between the Manichaeans and the Republicans, Democrats, Independents, etc., etc. that we have today.
He dates his conversions to the discovery he made that he, Augustine, had a free will. Once it dawned on him that he had the power to control his mind in what to think, and the power to control his will in what to choose, he was on his way back to the service of God.
On this level of his teaching, Augustine is a prophet for our times. There is so much learned justification of sin that whole philosophies have been created to defend man’s misconduct by shifting the blame on heredity, or environment or education. Anything, and anyone that human ingenuity can devise is said to be responsible for the evils in the world today — except the real agent of evil, which is man’s free will refusing to submit to the demanding will of God.
Augustine’s City of God laid the foundations for a Christian understanding of history. . . .
As we look more closely at these two kinds of society, we find they are composed of two different kinds of people. “We distribute the human race into two kinds of men, one living according to man, the other living according to God. Mystically, we call them two Cities, or two societies of men: the one of which is predestined to reign eternally with God, the other to suffer eternal punishment with the devil.”
If we look still more closely, we discover that, at root, what produces these two cities is how the members in each of the two societies use their wills. It all depends on whom and how deeply they love and what they are willing to pay as the price of their love. . . .
If Augustine could so divide the human race in his day, how much more can we do so in our day. No doubt, the co-existence of these two cities is a mystery, and their final explanation known only to God. But for those who believe in Christ, it helps immensely to know that part of God’s mysterious providence is the fact that there are two kinds of people at any given period of world history: those who abuse their free will and refuse to surrender their liberty to God and those who use their freedom for its noblest purpose, to sacrifice everything they have, including themselves, to the loving will of God.
Mike: That’s posted in today’s Pile of Prep. What did we basically learn? The more things change, the more things stay the same basically. Not much has changed since the time of Augustine. Augustine had to deal with Manichaeans. At the end of his life there was another heresy called Nestorianism, the Nestorian heresy. I won’t get into that. It was always something. Someone was always responsible for evil and despicability and sin and this and that and the other except the people that were committing it.
This is why Augustine, so frustrated by this, sat down and said: I need to write. He wrote and wrote and that’s what becomes the book City of God where he divides it into two. We have the exact same situation today. There is no difference.
Remember last year I did a monologue here on this show that many of you hurled much calumny my way, and I suspect at the end of this day I will joyously receive much calumny today. I can’t wait to get it. It’s exciting. You’re either religious or irreligious. There is no in between. When you’re applying it to government, there’s either a religious government or an irreligious one. We have an irreligious one. Now, congratulations, we now have irreligious ones in most of the states.
End Mike Church Show Transcript