Friday, June 25, 2004

Augustine Day by Day - June 25 - God the Father and Our Mother the Church

Unflaggingly, let us love the Lord our God and let us love his Church. Let us love Him as the Lord and the Church as his handmaid. No one can offend the one and still be pleasing to the other. What does it avail you if you do not directly offend the Father but do offend the mother?

-- Commentary on Psalm 88, 14

This is, obliquely, what I was talking about a few days ago when I said you can neither take the Scriptures out of a devotional love for God nor remove them from the life of the Church. When I read Augustine's wonderful Confessions in my first year of college, one of the few things he said which I've never been able to get out of my head is how he thanked God for bringing him into "the wings of the Church," and rather envied those who had been born and raised in those sheltering wings their whole lives. I realized that I myself had been born in those wings, and it really touched me. As bad as the Church is, life outside Her is even worse. In fact, there is no life outside the Church, because it is Christ's Body. I always thank God for saving me into Her wings, into His embrace from the Cross.

Prayer. Let my mouth speak the praise of the Lord by whom all things were made and who was made amidst all things. He is the witness of the Father and the creator of the mother.

-- Sermon 188, 3

As far as Christ being the creator of the mother, the Church, Augustine almost certainly has in mind the scene in John's Gospel when the centurion stabs Christ in the chest and blood pours out with water (chap. 19). Augustine asserted, somewhere else, and probably more than once, that the Church poured out of that wound, bought by the blood and born again by the water. And just before that life-giving fluid gushed out, Christ gave John, an archetype for a beloved disciple, as a son to Mary, and Mary, as the archetype for the Church, to us as a mother. Do with it what you will. What a shame the Earth has become our culture's mother when God always intended her to be our sister, a fellow creature, and the Church to be our true mother.
June 25

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