Gabriel's Horn, Pastor George Weaver, August, 2015

posted Aug 10, 2015, 6:38 PM by Lois Kerchner   [ updated Aug 10, 2015, 6:38 PM ]

Meeting Saint Augustine (354-430 AD)

As part of the closing prayer for the July meeting of Church Council I borrowed from the words of St. Augustine who prayed as follows: “O Christ, Rest your weary ones. Tend your sick ones. Bless your dying ones. Soothe your suffering ones. Pity your afflicted ones. Shield your joyous ones, all for the sake of love.”

In introducing this prayer from Augustine, I had the distinct impression that many of those present had little to no familiarity with this early Church Father. Augustine of Hippo, as he is often referenced, was an early Christian theologian and philosopher who was the bishop of Hippo Regius located in Numidia, a Roman province in North Africa.

A recent news story mentioned a special ceremony in historic St. Augustine, Florida to welcome a historic relic on loan from the Vatican for the 450th anniversary celebration of the city, and the founding of America’s first Catholic parish. The reception of the relic, an actual finger from Augustine of Hippo took place in a ceremony of Solemn Vespers in the Cathedral Basilica. Father Tom Willis, who presided, explained the importance of the relic’s arrival: “November 13th in year 354 AD, Aurelius Augustinius was born into North Africa, present day Algeria,” Willis said.

Jerome, a contemporary of Augustine credited him with “establishing anew the ancient faith.” (Jerome wrote extensively and is best known for translating most of the Bible into Latin which came to be called the Vulgate).

St. Augustine is considered one of the most important of the Church Fathers in Western Christianity for his writings in the Patristic Era. Among his important literary works are City of God and Confessions, which are still readily available in print today. Augustine helped formulate the doctrine of original sin and contributed to the development of just war theory. Many Protestants consider Augustine to be among the significant theological fathers of the Protestant Reformation due to his teachings regarding salvation and divine grace.

According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, “When the Western Roman Empire began to disintegrate, Augustine developed the concept of the Catholic Church as a spiritual City of God, distinct from the material Earthly City.” The segment of the Church that adhered to the concept of the Trinity as defined by the Council of Nicea (20 May to 19 June 325 AD) and the Council of Constantinople in 381 AD closely identified with Augustine's City of God. His thoughts and writing profoundly influenced the medieval worldview.

Within the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, Augustine is a saint, a preeminent Doctor of the Church, and the patron of various Augustinian orders. His memorial is celebrated on August 28, the day of his death. He is the patron saint of theologians, printers, brewers, the alleviation of sore eyes, and a number of dioceses and cities.

If you have read this far, you now have more information about the person who came to be called St. Augustine than you probably ever had any intentions of knowing, At the very least you now understand that St. Augustine is more than just a tourist destination in Florida. Enjoy the rest of the summer.

George Weaver, Pastor of Maturing Ministries