De virginitate [ St Augustine: From the Retractions 2:23: After I had written ‘on the Good of Marriage,’ it was expected that I should write on Holy Virginity; and I did not delay to do so: and that it is God’s gift, and how great a gift, and with what humility to be guarded, so far as I was able I set forth in one volume.
48. What now shall I say concerning the very carefulness and watchfulness against sin? Who shall boast that he has a chaste heart? Or who shall boast that he is clean from sin? Holy virginity is indeed inviolate from the mother’s womb; but no one, says he, is clean in Your sight, not even the infant whose life is of one day upon the earth. There is kept also in faith inviolate a certain virginal chastity, whereby the Church is joined as a chaste virgin unto One Husband: but That One Husband has taught, not only the faithful who are virgin in mind and body, but all Christians altogether, from spiritual even unto carnal, from Apostles even unto the last penitents, as though from the height of heaven even unto the bounds of it, to pray, and in the prayer itself has admonished them to say, And forgive us our debts, even as we also forgive our debtors: where, by this which we seek, He shows what also we should remember that we are. For neither on behalf of those debts, which for our whole past life we trust have been forgiven unto us in Baptism through His peace, has He charged us to pray, saying, And forgive us our debts, even as we also forgive our debtors: otherwise this were a prayer which Catechumens rather ought to pray up to the time of Baptism; but whereas it is what baptized persons pray, rulers and people, pastors and flocks; it is sufficiently shown that in this life, the whole of which is a trial, no one ought to boast himself as though free from all sins.
49. Wherefore also the virginity of God without blame indeed, follow the Lamb wherever He shall have gone, both the cleansing of sins being perfected, and virginity being kept, which, were it lost, could not return: but, because that same Apocalypse itself, wherein such unto one such were revealed, in this also praises them, that in their mouth there was not found a lie: let them remember in this also to be true, that they dare not say that they have not sin. Forsooth the same John, who saw that, has said this,If we shall have said that we have not sin, we deceive our own selves, and the truth is not in us (1Jn1:8); but if we shall have confessed our faults, He is faithful and just, so as to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. But if we shall have said that we have not sinned, we shall make Him a liar, and His word shall not be in us (1Jn1:10). This surely is not said to these or those, but unto all Christians, wherein virgins also ought to recognize themselves. For thus they shall be without a lie, such as in the Apocalypse they appeared. And by this means so long as there is not as yet perfection in heavenly height, confession in lowliness makes them without blame.
50. But, again, lest by occasion of this sentence, any one should sin with deadly security, and should allow himself to be carried away, as though his sin were soon by easy confession to be blotted out, he straightway added, My little children, these things have I written unto you, that you sin not; and, if one shall have sinned, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and Himself is a propitiation of our sins.(1Jn2:1) Let no one therefore depart from sin as though about to return to it, nor bind himself as it were by compact of alliance of this kind with unrighteousness, so as to take delight rather to confess it than to shun it. But, for as much as even upon such as are busy and on the watch not to sin, there creep by stealth, in a certain way, from human weakness, sins, however small, however few, yet not none; these same themselves become great and grievous, in case pride shall have added to them increase and weight: but by the Priest, Whom we have in the heavens, if by pious humility they be destroyed, they are with all ease cleansed.
51.But I contend not with those, who assert that a man can in this life live without any sin: I contend not, I gainsay not. For perhaps we take measure of the great from out our own misery, and, comparing ourselves with ourselves, understand not. One thing I know, that those great ones, such as we are not, such as we have not as yet made proof of, by how much they are great, by so much humble themselves in all things, that they may find grace before God. For, let them be how great so ever they will, there is no servant greater than his Lord, nor disciple greater than his master. And assuredly He is the Lord, Who says, All things have been delivered unto Me of My Father; (Mt11:27)and He is the Master, Who says, Come unto Me, all you who labor, and learn of Me (Mt11:28); and yet what learn we? In that I am meek, says He, and lowly of heart.(Mt11:29).
52.Here some one will say, This is now not to write of virginity, but of humility. As though truly it were any kind of virginity, and not that which is after God, which we had undertaken to set forth. And this good, by how much I see it to be great, by so much I fear for it, lest it be lost, the thief pride. Therefore there is none that guards the virginal good, save God Himself Who gave it: and God is Charity.
The Guardian therefore of virginity is Charity: but the place of this Guardian is humility.
There forsooth He dwells, Who said, that on the lowly and quiet, and that trembles at His words, His Spirit rests. What, therefore, have I done foreign from my purpose, if wishing the good, which I have praised, to be more securely guarded, I have taken care also to prepare a place for the Guardian? For I speak with confidence, nor have I any fear lest they be with me, whom I admonish with care to fear for themselves together with me. More easily do follow the Lamb, although not wherever He shall have gone, yet so far as they shall have had power, married persons who are humble, than virgins who are proud. For how does one follow Him, unto Whom one wills not to approach or how does one approach Him, unto Whom one comes not to learn, in that I am meek and lowly of heart? Wherefore those the Lamb leads following wherever He shall have gone, in whom first Himself shall have found where to lay His Head. For also a certain proud and crafty person had said to Him, Lord, I will follow You wherever You shall have gone; to whom He made answer, Foxes have dens, and fowls of heaven nests: but the Son of Man has not where to lay His Head. By the term of foxes He reproved wily craftiness, and by the name of birds puffed-up arrogance, wherein He found not pious humility to rest in. And by this no where at all did he follow the Lord, who had promised that he would follow Him, not unto a certain point of progress, but altogether wherever He should have gone.
53. Wherefore this do ye, virgins of God, this do ye: follow ye the Lamb, wherever He shall have gone. But first come unto Him, Whom you are to follow, and learn, in that He is meek and lowly of heart. Come ye in lowly wise unto the Lowly, if you love: and depart not from Him, lest ye fall. For whoever fears to depart from Him asks and says, Let there not come to me foot of pride. Go on in the way of loftiness with the foot of lowliness; Himself lifts up such as follow in lowly wise, Who thought it not a trouble to come down unto such as lay low. Commit ye His gifts unto Him to keep, guard ye your strength unto Him. Whatever of evil through His guardianship ye commit not, account as forgiven unto you by Him: lest, thinking that you have little forgiven unto you, you little, and with ruinous boasting despise the publicans beating their breasts. Concealing that strength of yours which has been tried beware, that you be not puffed up, because you have been able to bear something: but concerning that which has been untried pray, that you be not tempted above that you are able to bear. Think that some are superior to you in secret, than whom you are openly better. When the good things of others, haply unknown to you, are kindly believed by you, your own that are known to you are not lessened by comparison, but strengthened by love: and what haply as yet are wanting, are by so much the more easily given, by how much they are the more humbly desired. Let such among your number as persevere, afford to you an example: but let such as fall increase your fear. Love the one that you may imitate it; mourn over the other, that you be not puffed up. Do not ye establish your own righteousness; submit yourselves unto God Who justifies you. Pardon the sins of others, pray for your own: future sins shun by watching, past blot out by confessing.
54. Lo, already you are such, as that in the rest of your conduct also ye correspond with the virginity which you have professed and kept. Lo, already not only do ye abstain from murders, devilish sacrifices and abominations, thefts, rapines, frauds, perjuries, drunkenness, and all luxury and avarice, hatreds, emulations, impieties, cruelties; but even those things, which either are, or are thought, lighter, are not found nor arise among you: not bold face, not wandering eyes, not unbridled tongue, not petulant laugh, not scurrilous jest, not unbecoming mien, not swelling or loose gait; already ye render not evil for evil, nor curse for curse; already, lastly, you fulfill that measure of love, that you lay down your lives for your brethren. Lo, already you are such, because also such ye ought to be. These, being added to virginity, set forth an angelic life unto men, and the ways of heaven unto the earth. But, by how much you are great, whosoever of you are so great, by so much humble yourselves in all things, that you may find grace before God, that He resist you not as proud, that He humble you not as lifting up yourselves, that He lead you not through straits as being puffed up: although anxiety be unnecessary, that, where Charity glows, humility be not wanting.
55. If, therefore, you despise marriages of sons of men, from which to beget sons of men, love ye with your whole heart Him, Who is fair of form above the sons of men; you have leisure; your heart is free from marriage bonds. Gaze on the Beauty of your Lover: think of Him equal to the Father, made subject also to His Mother: ruling even in the heavens, and serving upon the earth: creating all things, created among all things. That very thing, which in Him the proud mock at, gaze on, how fair it is: with inward eyes gaze on the wounds of Him hanging, the scars of Him rising again, the blood of Him dying, the price of him that believes, the gain of Him that redeems. Consider of how great value these are, weigh them in the scales of Charity; and whatever of love ye had to expend upon your marriages, pay back to Him.
56. It is well that He seeks your beauty within, where He has given unto you power to become daughters of God: He seeks not of you a fair flesh, but fair conduct, whereby to bridle also the flesh. He is not one unto Whom any one can lie concerning you, and make him rage through jealousy. See with how great security ye love Him, Whom ye fear not to offend by false suspicions. Husband and wife love each other, in that they see each other: and what they see not, that they fear between themselves: nor have they sure delight in what is visible, while in what is concealed they usually suspect what is not. You in Him, Whom ye see not with the eyes, and behold by faith, neither have what is real to blame, nor fear lest haply ye offend Him by what is false. If therefore ye should owe great love to husbands, Him, for Whose sake ye would not have husbands, how greatly ought ye to Love? Let Him be fixed in your whole heart, Who for you was fixed on the Cross: let Him possess in your soul all that, whatever it be, that you would not have occupied by marriage. It is not lawful for you to love little Him, for Whose sake you have not loved even what were lawful. So loving Him Who is meek and lowly of heart, I have no fear for you of pride.
57. Thus, after our small measure, we have spoken enough both of sanctity, whereby you are properly called sanctimoniales, and of humility, whereby whatever great name ye bear is kept. But more worthily let those Three Children, unto whom He, Whom they loved with full glow of heart, afforded refreshing in the fire, admonish you concerning this our little work, much more shortly indeed in number of words, but much more greatly in weight of authority, in the Hymn wherein God is honored by them. For joining humility unto holiness in such as praise God, they have most plainly taught, that each, by how much he make any more holy profession, by so much do beware that he be not deceived by pride. Wherefore do ye also praise Him, Who grants unto you, that in the midst of the flames of this world, although ye be not joined in marriage, yet ye be not burned: and praying also for us, Bless ye the Lord, you holy and humble men of heart; utter a hymn, and exalt Him above all forever.
So, CityofGod.blog, brings you St. Augustine’s work on “Holy Virginity” as result of his discussion of virginity his work in the Enchiridion of Faith Hope and Charity. Augustine speaks of the virgin as dedicated to God, and has a higher calling than Married life. Christian virginity has been considered from the earliest centuries as aspecial offering made by the soul to its spouse, Christ. What is not usually discussed is why?, what is the end result? What is the point of it all. The answer is written in the testimony of our saints. This Testimony of living martyrdom for God, witnesses to God’s supernatural work in our Church. Can anything like this be found in any other christian, evangelical world, or Islamic world of flesh abominations? NO! In fact, these do not even comprehend this holy purpose. These are Christ’s living witnesses, imitating Him and his mother. Since St. Augustine’s (De gen. ad litt., 1. XII, vii, n. 16) mystical writers have agreed in dividing visions into corporeal, imaginative, and intellectual. FINAL Of Virginity Beginning to today 04/15/19 CityOfGod.Blog is starting a “Daily Indulgence Prayer”, see Home page.
About this page Source. Translated by C.L. Cornish. 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. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1310.htm>.
“Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O sacred Virgin; Give me the strength against thine enemies”
[An indulgence of 300 days. A Plenary indulgence under the usual conditions, if this invocation is repeated daily for a month. (S.C. Ind., Apr 5,1786; S.P. Ap., MAr 28,1933).]