Category Archives: Church Fathers

“The Lord is close to those who have bruised their hearts” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

God is most high, yet near.

I will cry to God Most High. If He is most high, how can He hear your crying?

‘My confidence is born from experience,’ the psalmist replies, ‘because I am praying to God, who has dealt kindly with me. If He dealt kindly with me before I sought Him, will He not hear me now that I am crying out to Him?’

The Lord God dealt kindly with us by sending us our Savior Jesus Christ, to die for our misdeeds and rise for our justification. (Rom. 4:25)

And for what kind of people did God will His Son to die?

For the godless. The godless were not seeking God, but God sought them.

He is “most high” indeed, but in such a way that our wretchedness and our groans are not far from Him, for the Lord is close to those who have bruised their hearts.

I will cry to God Most High, to God who has dealt kindly with me.”

–Augustine of Hippo, Expositions of the Psalms 51–72, trans. Maria Boulding, ed. John E. Rotelle, vol. 17, The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2001), 17: 108–109. Augustine is commenting on Psalm 57:2.

Leave a comment

Filed under Augustine, Bible, Christian Theology, Christology, Church Fathers, Death, Faith, Glory of Christ, God the Creator, Heaven, Jesus Christ, Joy, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“Christ has invited you to His own table abounding in all good things” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“Do you wish to be happy? If you wish, I shall show you how you may be happy.

Continue to read that passage: ‘How long will you be dull of heart? why do you love vanity and seek after lying? Know ye—.’ What?—‘that the Lord hath made his holy one wonderful.’ (Psalm 4:3-5)

Christ came to our miseries. He was hungry and thirsty; He was weary and He slept; He worked wonders and He suffered evils; He was scourged, crowned with thorns, covered with spittle, beaten with cudgels, fixed to a cross, wounded with a lance, placed in a tomb.

But He rose again on the third day when His work was finished and death was dead. Lo, keep your eye fixed on His Resurrection, because ‘the Lord hath made his holy one wonderful’ to such a degree that He raised Him from the dead, and bestowed upon Him the honor of sitting at His right hand in heaven.

He showed you what you ought to attend to, if you wish to be happy, for here on earth you cannot be happy. In this life you cannot be happy; no one can.

You seek what is good, but earth is not the source of that which you seek. What are you seeking? A happy life. But it is not available here.

If you were looking for gold in a place where it did not exist, would not he who knew that it was not there say to you: ‘Why are you digging? Why are you plowing up the earth? You are digging a trench to descend into a place where you will find nothing.’ What are you going to answer the one who proffers you this advice? ‘I am looking for gold.’ And he answers: ‘I do not tell you that what you seek is of no importance, but I do say that it is not in the place where you are looking for it.’

Likewise, when you say: ‘I desire to be happy,’ [the answer may be given:] ‘You seek what is good, but it is not in this place.’

If Christ had happiness here, so also will you. But notice what He found in this land of your death. When He came from another region, what did He find here except what abounds here?

With you He ate what is plentiful in the cellar of your wretchedness. He drank vinegar here; He had gall, too. Behold, what He found in your cellar!

However, He has invited you to His own table abounding in all good things, the table of heaven, the table of the angels where He Himself is the bread.

Coming, then, and finding these unpalatable viands in your cellar, He did not disdain such a table as yours, but He promised you His own. And what does He say to us? ‘Believe, just believe that you will come to the good things of My table inasmuch as I did not scorn the poor things of your table.’

He accepted your evil; will He not give you His good? Certainly He will. He promised His life to us; but what He has done is more unbelievable.

He offered His own life to us, as if to say:

‘I invite you to My life where no one dies, where life is truly blessed, where food is not corrupted, where it refreshes and does not fail. Behold the place to which I invite you, to the abode of the angels, to the friendship of the Father and of the Holy Spirit, to the eternal banquet, to My companionship, finally, to Me Myself and to My life do I invite you. Do you not wish to believe that I will give you My life? Take My death as a pledge.’

Now, therefore, while we are living in this corruptible flesh, by changing our ways, let us die with Christ; by loving justice, let us live with Christ.

We shall not gain the happy life unless we shall have come to Him who came to us and unless we shall have begun to live with Him who died for us.”

–Augustine of Hippo, “Sermon 231: On the Resurrection according to St. Mark,” Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons (ed. Hermigild Dressler; trans. Mary Sarah Muldowney; vol. 38; The Fathers of the Church; Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1959), 38: 207-209.

Leave a comment

Filed under Augustine, Bible, Christian Theology, Christology, Church Fathers, Death, Faith, Glory of Christ, God the Creator, Heaven, Jesus Christ, Joy, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“This is our salvation” by Hilary of Poitiers (A.D. 315-368)

“Virgo, partus, et corpus; postque crux, mors, inferi, salus nostra est.

The Virgin, birth, and body, then the cross, death, and lower world; this is our salvation.”

–Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity 2.24 (trans. E.W. Watson and L. Pullman, NPNF 2/9:59). As cited in Samuel D. Renihan, Crux, Mors, Inferi: A Primer and Reader on the Descent of Christ (Independently Published: Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, 2021), 18.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, Christology, Church Fathers, Death, Descent, Glory of Christ, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Samuel Renihan, The Gospel, Union with Christ

“They preferred to die of thirst” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“The Magi see a star in the East and they know that a King has been born in Judea. Who is that King, so small and so mighty, not yet speaking on earth and already issuing commands in heaven?

In truth He did this for us, in His desire that we might learn about Him from the sacred Scriptures, and for the Magi, that they might believe in Him from His prophecies even though He had given them so bright a sign in the heavens and had revealed to their hearts that He was born in Judea.

For, in seeking the place where He whom they desired to see and to adore was born, they had to contact the leaders of the Jews, so that these unfaithful men, wittingly deceptive but unwittingly truthful, might give evidence to the faithful about the grace of faith, evidence drawn from holy Scripture which they carried on their lips but not in their hearts.

How wonderful it would have been if these leaders of the Jews, when they had heard from the Magi that under the guidance of the star they had come desiring to adore Him, had associated themselves with the searchers for Christ, had led them to Bethlehem, which they had pointed out from the sacred books, and had seen, understood, and adored Him along with them?

Instead, after directing others to the fountain of life, they preferred to die of thirst.

They became, as it were, milestones to these strangers; they indicated the path to the travelers but they remained motionless and immovable.”

–Augustine of Hippo, “Sermon 199: On the Epiphany of the Lord,” Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons (ed. Hermigild Dressler; trans. Mary Sarah Muldowney; vol. 38; The Fathers of the Church; Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1959), 38: 60-61.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advent, Augustine, Bible, Christian Theology, Church Fathers, Faith, God the Creator, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“Smitten with awe” by Athanasius of Alexandria (A.D. 293-373)

“Such and so many are the Saviour’s achievements that follow from His Incarnation, that to try to number them is like gazing at the open sea and trying to count the waves. One cannot see all the waves with one’s eyes, for when one tries to do so those that are following on baffle one’s senses.

Even so, when one wants to take in all the achievements of Christ in the body, one cannot do so, even by reckoning them up, for the things that transcend one’s thoughts are always more than those one thinks that one has grasped.

As we cannot speak adequately about even a part of His work, therefore, it will be better for us not to speak about it as a whole. So we will mention but one thing more, and then leave the whole for you to marvel at.

For, indeed everything about it is marvelous, and wherever a man turns his gaze he sees the Godhead of the Word and is smitten with awe.”

–Athanasius, On the Incarnation 8. 54. (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 373/1993), 93.

Leave a comment

Filed under Athanasius, Bible, Christian Theology, Church Fathers, Incarnation, Jesus Christ, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

“I believe in God the Father Almighty” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“The Creed is a rule of faith briefly compiled so as to instruct the mind without burdening the memory. It is expressed in few words, from which, however, much instruction may be drawn.

‘I believe in God the Father Almighty.’

See how quickly it is said and how much it signifies! God exists and He is the Father: God by His power; Father, by His goodness.

How fortunate we are who have discovered that God is our Father! Let us, therefore, believe in Him, and let us promise ourselves all things from His mercy, because He is omnipotent.

On that account we believe in God the Father Almighty.

Let no one say: ‘He is not able to forgive me my sins.’

How can the Omnipotent lack that power?

But you say: ‘I have sinned much.’

I answer: ‘But He is omnipotent.’

You insist: ‘I have committed sins of such a nature that I cannot be freed or cleansed from them.’

I reply: ‘But He is omnipotent. See what you sing in the Psalm: ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul, and never forget all He hath done for thee. Who forgiveth all thy iniquities: who healeth all thy diseases.’ (Psalm 103:2-3)”

–Augustine of Hippo, “Sermon 213: For the Recent Converts,” Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons (ed. Hermigild Dressler; trans. Mary Sarah Muldowney; vol. 38; The Fathers of the Church; Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1959), 38: 121.

Leave a comment

Filed under Augustine, Christian Theology, Church Fathers, Communion with God, God the Creator, God the Father, God's Excellencies, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Sanctification, The Gospel

“My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord, of that Lord by whom all things were made and who was made flesh amid all the works of His hands; who is the Manifestor of His Father, the Creator of His mother; Son of God born of the Father without a mother, Son of Man born of a mother without a father; the great Day of the angels, small in the day of men; the Word as God existing before all time, the Word as flesh existing only for an allotted time; the Creator of the sun created under the light of the sun; ordering all ages from the bosom of of His Father, from the womb of His mother consecrating this day; remaining there, yet proceeding hither; Maker of heaven and earth brought forth on this earth overshadowed by the heavens; unspeakably wise, wisely speechless; filling the whole world, lying in a manger; guiding the stars, a nursling at the breast; though insignificant in the form of man, so great in the form of God that His greatness was not lessened by His insignificance nor was His smallness crushed by His might.

When He assumed human form He did not abandon His divine operations, nor did He cease to reach from end to end mightily and to order all things sweetly.

When clothed in the weakness of our flesh He was received, not imprisoned, in the Virgin’s womb so that without the food of wisdom being withdrawn from the angels we might taste how sweet is the Lord.”

–Augustine of Hippo, “Sermon 187: On the Feast of the Nativity,” Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons (ed. Hermigild Dressler; trans. Mary Sarah Muldowney; vol. 38; The Fathers of the Church; Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1959), 38: 13.

Leave a comment

Filed under Augustine, Bible, Christian Theology, Christology, Church Fathers, Jesus Christ, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Sanctification, The Church, The Gospel