Posted in personalities, tagged art, Benny Thomas, black and white, Christian theology, City of God, Confessions, grace, Hell, Hippo, Manichaean ideas, Paradise, pen portraits, Roman Empire, saint St. Monica, Tagaste, the City of God, the trinity on October 3, 2012 |
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Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430), bishop and Doctor of the Church is best known for his Confessions (401), his autobiographical account of his conversion. The term augustinianism evolved from his writings that had a profound influence on the church.
Augustine was born at Tagaste (now Algeria) in North Africa on 13 November, 354. His father, Patricius, while holding an official position in the city remained a pagan until converting on his deathbed. His mother, Monica, was a devout Christian.
At the encouragement of Monica, his extensive religious education started in the schools of Tagaste (an important part of the Roman Empire) and Madaura until he was sixteen. He was off to Carthage next in 370, but soon fell to the pleasures and excesses of the half pagan city’s theatres, licentiousness and decadent socialising with fellow students. After a time he confessed to Monica that he had been living in sin with a woman with whom he had a son in 372, Adeodatus, (which means Gift of God).
Still a student, and with a newfound desire to focus yet again on exploration of his faith, in 373 Augustine became a confirmed Manichaean, much against his mother’s wishes. In his thirties, his spiritual journey led him away from Manichaeism after nine years because of disagreement with its cosmology and a disenchanting meeting with the celebrated Manichaean bishop, Faustus of Mileve.
Passing through yet another period of spiritual struggle, Augustine went to Italy in 383, became a pupil of Ambrose. At the age of thirty-three, the epiphany and clarity of purpose which Augustine had sought for so long finally came to him in Milan in 386. He was baptised by Ambrose in 387 much to the eternal delight of his mother, “..nothing is far from God.”
After the death of his mother Augustine now returned to his native Tagaste. He was ordained as priest in 391.
For the next five years Augustine’s priestly life was fruitful, consisting of administration of church business, always the defender of truth and a compassionate shepherd of souls. At the age of forty-two he became coadjutor-bishop of Hippo. From 396 till his death in 439, he ruled the diocese alone. At that point the Roman Empire was in disintegration, and at the time of his death the Vandals where at the gates of Hippo. He died on 28 August, 430, in the seventy-sixth year of his age. Saint Augustine is often depicted as one of the Four Latin Doctors in many paintings, frescoes etc., “Unhappy is the soul enslaved by the love of anything that is mortal.”
Saint Augustine’s books, essays and letters of Christian Revelation are probably more influential in the history of Catholic Church than any other Christian writer since St. Paul. He represents the first Christian philosophy of history. He also wrote of the controversies with Manicheans, Pelagians, and Donatists which helped lead to his ideas on Creation, Grace, the Sacraments and the Church. There is a massive collection of his writings and they also include: Soliloquies (386-387), On Grace and Free Will. (426) Retractions (426-427) and Letters (386-430).(ack: C.D. Merriman/ Jalic Inc.)
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Angel of Death on a Quest ©
Angel of Death heard so much about perfection that he was curious. He asked the guardian of the temple of Truth if she could enlighten him on the matter.
Truth came down steps to say, ‘I ought not be talking to you.’ The angel asked why. The transcendent beauty of Truth was in full flow. She said, ‘You ask me of all persons’. Angel of Death insisted and Truth explained that he made man confused. If it were not for him man could have stayed focused on her. In the end Truth asked the angel to try Paradise for perfection.
Thus angel of Death and Destruction went to Paradise and the 72 houris were all gamboling in the fountain of pleasures. They on seeing him quickly covered themselves. But the angel of Death sniggered and said, ‘You perfect beings! Bah!’ the angel was most annoyed and said, ‘ Whoever said you are perfection incarnate, lied. You are as hairy as a bear. If I were to hug you, I must search next for flea powder. Bah! ’ He was most irritated and he went to the earth.
His ears perked up as he heard great crowd worshiping one who was thumping the Bible. ‘Is he perfect?’ he wondered. So he showered pot full of gold. Immediately he threw the Book in order to pick up all the pieces of gold that fell about him. He was in glee since his congregation were all intent in their prayers. ‘He cannot be perfect,’ decided the angel. Next he saw a bearded rabbi who boasted he was perfect. When asked on what grounds did he come to that conclusion he said he was letter perfect. ‘No, you shall not live a moment longer’ said the angel. The angel of Death true to form struck him dead. Next he came across two fellows giving their speech before a video camera. From their speech the angel understood they were preparing themselves for martyrdom. The angel saw they had shaved themselves ritually. The angel casually asked them, ‘What next?’ The wretched fellows said, ’Paradise and houris await us’. He asked,’So you shaved yourselves?’ He could not help laughing himself. He roared in laughter unable to control himself. He could not tell them that they only shaved to add hair on those 72 houris in the most unlikeliest places.
Later on a sober reflection the angel of death had to admit the imperfect beings had no notion of truth so they merely did some mumbo-jumbo to add to their imperfection.
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If every life has its absolute position what of trees or grass? Do they have an absolute position? Let me explain with a story.
The mighty king who had lorded over a large part of Asia lay dying. At the height of his glory when he sat on his Judgment Seat all those who approached him knew they were before an all too powerful king. A nod from his head spelt death for any one. A smile of course made the supplicant think Fortune indeed smiled on him. Such a man when he lay dying called with a weak voice his chief counselor to his bedside. He whispered something to him who immediately sent his servant to fetch.
It was a piece of paper folded and secured with a ribbon.
The dying king carefully opened the paper and stared at it. Then with a smile he said, “I came across a rosebush in one of my hunting trips, some forty years ago. There was one perfect yellow rose and the sight of it still in bloom bespoke something very significant. Not a day have I passed without having thought of its beauty.”
The yellow rose was no longer yellow but was withered and ugly. “ As if he had read the thought of his servant the king explained:” I myself see this after so many years. Yet it still retains its freshness and mystery in my mind.” Yes the physical reality showed the yellow rose as withered and spoilt. Yet it lived in the mind of the mighty king as though it had never suffered the hurts of Time.
Every life form lowly or grand, crawling or flying, man or woman have an other-worldly existence to which we may collectively describe as an inner world. It is a spiritual existence on which Time holds no sway.
One might call it Mind of God, paradise or something else. Yet we are all freedmen in that kingdom.
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