August 21, 2019

The Enchiridion, on Faith, Hope and Charity day 1

Theological Virtues – St Augustine Doctor of the Church, Bishop of Hippo, (354-430AD)

The Enchiridion, or Handbook, is addressed to Laurentius, in answer to his questions. One manuscript calls him a deacon, another a notary of the city of Rome. St. Augustine wrote it sometime after the death of our St. Jerome, (on September 30, 420), for he alludes in Chapter 87 to Jerome of blessed memory. St Jerome is one of four Doctors of the Church in this age.

Augustine, author usually calls the book On Faith, Hope and Love, because he treats the subject under these three heads cf. (1Cor13:13). He follows under the first head the order of the Apostles’ Creed, and refutes, without naming them, the Manichaan, Apollinarian, Arian, and Pelagian heresies. Under the second heading he gives a brief exposition of the Lord’s Prayer. The third part is a discourse on Christian Charity.  (Many errors of the protestant movement bear similar passions, that  Augustine mentions in this catechesis .)

St. Augustine Monastic – ICON

Introduction : ( intends post 8-9 chapters (paragraphs) per day M-F Only for 14-15 days) About this handbook. Edits: CCC & Sacred Scripture references- Augustine discusses are added. by (“the City”)

Source. Translated by J.F. Shaw. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 3. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1887.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <>.

Chapter 1. The Author Desires the Gift of True Wisdom for Laurentius.

I cannot express, my beloved son Laurentius, the delight with which I witness your progress in knowledge, and the earnest desire I have that you should be a wise man: not one of those of whom it is said, Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world (1Cor1:20)? but one of those of whom it is said, The multitude of the wise is the welfare of the world, and such as the Apostles wishes those to become, whom he tells, I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. Now, just as no one can exist of himself, so no one can be wise of himself, but only by the enlightening influence of Him of whom it is written, All wisdom comes from the Lord. (Is28:29)

Chapter 2. The Fear of God is Man’s True Wisdom.

[ incert] (CCC #1676): At its core the piety of the people is a storehouse of values that offers answers of Christian wisdom of the people is capable if fashioning a vital synthesis. (CCC#1674): the religious sense of the Christian people has always found expression in various forms of PIETY surrounding the Church’s sacramental life, such as the veneration of relics(the cross), visits to sanctuaries pilgrimages, processions, the stations of the Cross, religious dance, the rosary, medals, etc.(Counsil of Nicea)]. You find this in the book of holy Job. For we read there what wisdom itself has said to man: Behold, the fear of the Lord (Job28:28) pietas that is wisdom. (defined – Pietas, translated variously as “duty”, “religiosity” or “religious behavior”, “loyalty”, “devotion”, or “filial piety”, was one of the chief virtues among the ancient Romans.]

Augustine Chapter #2 – The true wisdom of man is piety. If you ask further what is meant in that place by “pietas”, the Greek calls it more definitely θεοσέβεια, that is, the worship of God. The Greeks sometimes call piety, εὐσέβεια, which signifies, right worship, though this, of course, refers specially to the worship of God. But when we are defining in what man’s true wisdom consists, the most convenient word to use is that which distinctly expresses the fear of God. And can you, who are anxious that I should treat of great matters in few words, wish for a briefer form of expression? Or perhaps you are anxious that this expression should itself be briefly explained, and that I should unfold in a short discourse the proper mode of worshiping God?

Chapter 3. God is to Be Worshiped Through Faith, Hope, and Love.

Now if I should answer, that God is to be worshiped with faith, hope and love, you will at once say that this answer is too brief, and will ask me briefly to unfold the objects of each of these three graces, viz., what we are to believe, what we are to hope for, and what we are to love. And when I have done this, you will have an answer to all the questions you asked in your letter. If you have kept a copy of your letter, you can easily turn it up and read it over again: if you have not, you will have no difficulty in recalling it when I refresh your memory.

Chapter 4. The Questions Propounded by Laurentius.

You are anxious, you say, that I should write a sort of handbook for you, which you might always keep beside you, containing answers to the questions you put, viz.: what ought to be man’s chief end in life; what he ought, in view of the various heresies , chiefly to avoid; to what extent religion is supported by reason; what there is in reason that lends no support to faith. when faith stands alone; what is the starting-point, what the goal, of religion; what is the sum of the whole body of doctrine; what is the sure and proper foundation of the Catholic faith. Now, undoubtedly, you will know the answers to all these questions, if you know thoroughly the proper objects of faith, hope, and charity. For these must be the chief, nay, the exclusive objects of pursuit in religion. He who speaks against these is either a total stranger to the name of Christ, or is a heretic. These are to be defended by reason, which must have its starting-point either in the bodily senses or in the intuitions of the mind. And what we have neither had experience of through our bodily senses, nor have been able to reach through the intellect, must undoubtedly be believed on the testimony of those witnesses by whom the Scriptures, justly called divine, were written; and who by divine assistance were enabled, either through bodily sense or intellectual perception, to see or to foresee the things in question.

Chapter 5. Brief Answers to These Questions.

Moreover, when the mind has been imbued with the first elements of that faith which works by love, it endeavors by purity of life to attain unto sight, where the pure and perfect in heart know that unspeakable beauty, the full vision of which is supreme happiness. Here surely is an answer to your question as to what is the starting-point, and what the goal: we begin in faith, and are made perfect by sight. This also is the sum of the whole body of doctrine. But the sure and proper foundation of the Catholic faith is Christ. For other foundation, says the apostle, can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Nor are we to deny that this is the proper foundation of the Catholic faith, because it may be supposed that some heretics hold this in common with us. For if we carefully consider the things that pertain to Christ, we shall find that, among those heretics who call themselves christians, Christ is present in name only: in deed and in truth, He is not among them. But to show this would occupy us too long, for we should require to go over all the heresies which have existed, which do exist, or which could exist, under the christian name, and to show that this is true in the case of each — a discussion which would occupy so many volumes as to be all but interminable.

Chapter 6. Controversy Out of Place in a Handbook Like the Present.

Now you ask of me a handbook, that is, one that can be carried in the hand, not one to load your shelves. To return, then, to the three graces through which, as I have said, God should be worshiped — faith, hope, and love: to state what are the true and proper objects of each of these is easy. But to defend this true doctrine against the assaults of those who hold an opposite opinion, requires much fuller and more elaborate instruction. And the true way to obtain this instruction is not to have a short treatise put into one’s hands, but to have a great zeal kindled in one’s heart.

Chapter 7. The Creed and the Lord’s Prayer Demand the Exercise of Faith, Hope, and Love.

For you have the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. What can be briefer to hear or to read? What easier to commit to memory? When, as the result of sin, the human race was groaning under a heavy load of misery, and was in urgent need of the divine compassion, one of the prophets, anticipating the time of God’s grace, declared: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered (Rom10:13). Hence the Lord’s Prayer. But the apostle, when, for the purpose of commending this very grace, he had quoted this prophetic testimony, immediately added: How then shall they call on Him in whom they have NOT believed?  Hence the Creed. In these two you have those three graces exemplified: faith believes, hope and love pray. But without faith the two last cannot exist, and therefore we may say that faith also prays. Whence it is written: “How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed”? (Rom10:14)

Jesus as Sophia, Wisdom of God – Icon

Chapter 8. The Distinction Between Faith and Hope, and the Mutual Dependence of Faith, Hope, and Love.

Again, can anything be hoped for which is not an object of faith? It is true that a thing which is not an object of hope may be believed? What true Christian, for example, does not believe in the punishment of the wicked? And yet such an one does not hope for it. And the man who believes that punishment to be hanging over himself, and who shrinks in horror from the prospect, is more properly said to fear than to hope. And these two states of mind the poet carefully distinguishes, when he says: Permit the fearful to have hope. Another poet, who is usually much superior to this one, makes a wrong use of the word, when he says: If I have been able to hope for so great a grief as this. And some grammarians take this case as an example of impropriety of speech, saying, He said sperare [to hope] instead of timere [to fear]. Accordingly, faith may have for its object evil as well as good; for both good and evil are believed and the faith that believes them is not evil, but good. Faith, moreover, is concerned with the past, the present, and the future, all three. We believe, for example, that Christ died — an event in the past; we believe that He is sitting at the right hand of God — a state of things which is present; we believe that He will come to judge the quick and the dead — an event of the future. Again, faith applies both to one’s own circumstances and those of others. Every one, for example, believes that his own existence had a beginning, and was not eternal, and he believes the same both of other men and other things. Many of our beliefs in regard to religious matters, again, have reference not merely to other men, but to angels, also. But hope has for its object only what is good, only what is future, and only what affects the man who entertains the hope. For these reasons, then, faith must be distinguished from hope, not merely as a matter of verbal propriety, but because they are essentially different. The fact that we do not see either what we believe or what we hope for, is all that is common to faith and hope. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, for example, faith is defined (and eminent defenders of the Catholic faith have used the definition as a standard) the evidence of things not seen  (Heb11:1-3). Although, should any one say that he believes, that is, has grounded his faith, not on words, nor on witnesses, nor on any reasoning whatever, but on the direct evidence of his own senses, he would not be guilty of such an impropriety of speech as to be justly liable to the criticism, You saw, therefore you did not believe. And hence it does not follow that an object of faith is not an object of sight. But it is better that we should use the word faith as the Sacred Scriptures have taught us, applying it to those things which are not seen. Concerning hope, again, the apostle says: Hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for? (Rom8:24) But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. When, then, we believe that good is about to come, this is nothing else but to hope for it. Now what shall I say of love? Without it, faith profits nothing; and in its absence, hope cannot exist. The Apostle James says: The devils also believe, and tremble. — that is, they, having neither hope nor love, but believing that what we love and hope for is about to come, are in terror. And so the Apostle Paul approves and commends the faith that works by charity; and this certainly cannot exist without hope.

Wherefore there is no love without hope, no hope without love, and neither love nor hope without faith. (Gal5:6); (1Thes1:3) & (Rev2:19) This concludes day 1 on our devotion for knowledge on “Faith Hope and Charity”, we pray so earnestly to receive increase in grace through Mary, our Mother, Queen of Sorrows – “Hail Mary full of Grace… (cont. Friday, is a fast day of the Church – 3/8/19)

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