Monday, September 13, 2010

Readings from...

AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO (354-430): Remember Monica, my mother

May Monica, my mother, rest in peace with her husband, before whom and after whom she was given in marriage to no man. She dutifully served him, bringing forth fruit to you with much patience, that she might also win him to you. Inspire, O Lord my God, inspire your servants my brethren, your children my master, whom I serve with my voice, my heart, and my writings, that as many of them as read these words may remember at your altar your handmaid, Monica, together with Patricius, formerly her husband, by whose flesh you brought me into this life, how I know not. May they with a pious affection remember them who were my parents in this transitory light, my brethren under you, our Father in our Catholic mother, and my fellow citizens in the eternal Jerusalem, for which your pilgrim people here below continually sigh from their setting out until their return, so that my mother's last request of me may be more abundantly granted by her through the prayers of many, occasioned by my confessions, rather than through my own prayers.
-- Confessions IX, 13, 36-37.

St Monica's feast day is August 27 and St Augustine's is August 28, so the Church has honored his request to remember them together. Have you? It's insteresting to think how all the saints––as well as all people of note in history––came from a set of parents and therefore ought to remind us always that we never know how great even the humblest of seeds can become.

ST. AUGUSTINE: Caught Up in Ecstasy

Now, while my mother and I were thus talking of God's wisdom and pining for it, with all the effort of our hearts we did for one instant attain to touch it. Then we returned to the sound of our own tongue, in which words must have a beginning and an end. We said: If in the silence of all earthly things God alone spoke to us, not by them but by himself, would not this constitute to "enter into the joy of the Master"?
-- Confessions 9, 10

How much time do you make for "the silence of all earthly things" each day, each week?

Prayer. Lord, let those who understand, praise you. And let those who understand you not, praise you too.
-- Confessions 11, 31


God sends afflictions, but nothing comes from the divine hand that is not useful to those souls who fear Him. Be happy if they come and receive them with a heart filled with filial love, because God sends them with a heart that is paternally concerned with your perfection. He wishes to purify and refine His holy love in you. Think often about the duration of eternity and do not get upset about the mishaps of this transitory and mortal life.
-- Letters 1982; O. XXI, p. 21


Many of us live publicly with featureless public puppets, images of the small public abstractions. It is when we pass our own private gate, and open our own secret door, that we step into the land of the giants.
-- Charles Dickens

I think Chesterton's point can be made more vivid for contemporary readers with two additional considerations. First, how much more 'interesting' or 'creative' do you think Lady Gaga is than yourself? Second, what do you think it means for a society in which a great many people see Lady Gaga as more interesting and creative than themselves? Or is Chesterton talking about the stale, contrived roles we play on a regular basis in public?


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