St. Augustine – August 28th

St. AugustineThe great St. Augustine’s life is unfolded to us in documents of unrivaled richness, and of no great character of ancient times have we information comparable to that contained in the “Confessions”, which relate the touching story of his soul, the “Retractations,” which give the history of his mind, and the “Life of Augustine,” written by his friend Possidius, telling of the saint’s apostolate.

We will confine ourselves to sketching the three periods of this great life: (1) the young wanderer’s gradual return to the Faith; (2) the doctrinal development of the Christian philosopher to the time of his episcopate; and (3) the full development of his activities upon the Episcopal throne of Hippo.

From his birth to his conversion (354-386)

Augustine was born at Tagaste on 13 November, 354. Tagaste, now Souk-Ahras, about 60 miles from Bona (ancient Hippo-Regius), was at that time a small free city of proconsular Numidia which had recently been converted from Donatism. Although eminently respectable, his family was not rich, and his father, Patricius, one of the curiales of the city, was still a pagan. However, the admirable virtues that made Monica the ideal of Christian mothers at length brought her husband the grace of baptism and of a holy death, about the year 371.

Augustine received a Christian education. His mother had him signed with the cross and enrolled among the catechumens. Once, when very ill, he asked forbaptism, but, all danger being soon passed, he deferred receiving the sacrament, thus yielding to a deplorable custom of the times. His association with “men ofprayer” left three great ideas deeply engraven upon his soul: a Divine Providence, the future life with terrible sanctions, and, above all, Christ the Saviour. “From my tenderest infancy, I had in a manner sucked with my mother’s milk that name of my Saviour, Thy Son; I kept it in the recesses of my heart; and all that presented itself to me without that Divine Name, though it might be elegant, well written, and even replete with truth, did not altogether carry me away” (Confessions I.4).

But a great intellectual and moral crisis stifled for a time all these Christian sentiments. The heart was the first point of attack. Patricius, proud of his son’s success in the schools of Tagaste and Madaura determined to send him to Carthage to prepare for a forensic career. But, unfortunately, it required several months to collect the necessary means, and Augustine had to spend his sixteenth year at Tagaste in an idleness which was fatal to his virtue; he gave himself up to pleasure with all the vehemence of an ardent nature. At first he prayed, but without the sincere desire of being heard, and when he reached Carthage, towards the end of the year 370, every circumstance tended to draw him from his true course: the many seductions of the great city that was still half pagan, the licentiousness of other students, the theatres, the intoxication of his literary success, and a proud desire always to be first, even in evil. Before long he wasobliged to confess to Monica that he had formed a sinful liaison with the person who bore him a son (372), “the son of his sin” — an entanglement from which he only delivered himself at Milan after fifteen years of its thralldom.

Two extremes are to be avoided in the appreciation of this crisis. Some, like Mommsen, misled perhaps by the tone of grief in the “Confessions”, have exaggerated it: in the “Realencyklopädie” (3d ed., II, 268) Loofs reproves Mommsen on this score, and yet he himself is too lenient towards Augustine, when he claims that in those days, the Church permitted concubinage. The “Confessions” alone prove that Loofs did not understand the 17th canon of Toledo. However, it may be said that, even in his fall, Augustine maintained a certain dignity and felt a compunction which does him honour, and that, from the age of nineteen, he had a genuine desire to break the chain. In fact, in 373, an entirely new inclination manifested itself in his life, brought about by the reading Cicero’s “Hortensius” whence he imbibed a love of the wisdom which Cicero so eloquently praises. Thenceforward Augustine looked upon rhetoric merely as a profession; his heart was in philosophy.

Unfortunately, his faith, as well as his morals, was to pass though a terrible crisis. In this same year, 373, Augustine and his friend Honoratus fell into the snares of the Manichæans. It seems strange that so great a mind should have been victimized by Oriental vapourings, synthesized by the Persian Mani (215-276) into coarse, material dualism, and introduced into Africa scarcely fifty years previously. Augustine himself tells us that he was enticed by the promises of a freephilosophy unbridled by faith; by the boasts of the Manichæans, who claimed to have discovered contradictions in Holy Writ; and, above all, by the hope of finding in their doctrine a scientific explanation of nature and its most mysterious phenomena. Augustine’s inquiring mind was enthusiastic for the natural sciences, and the Manichæans declared that nature withheld no secrets from Faustus, their doctor. Moreover, being tortured by the problem of the origin of evil, Augustine, in default of solving it, acknowledged a conflict of two principles. And then, again, there was a very powerful charm in the moral irresponsibility resulting from a doctrine which denied liberty and attributed the commission of crime to a foreign principle.

Once won over to this sect, Augustine devoted himself to it with all the ardour of his character; he read all its books, adopted and defended all its opinions. His furious proselytism drew into error his friend Alypius and Romanianus, his Mæcenas of Tagaste, the friend of his father who was defraying the expenses of Augustine’s studies. It was during this Manichæan period that Augustine’s literary faculties reached their full development, and he was still a student at Carthagewhen he embraced error.

His studies ended, he should in due course have entered the forum litigiosum, but he preferred the career of letters, and Possidius tells us that he returned to Tagaste to “teach grammar.” The young professor captivated his pupils, one of whom, Alypius, hardly younger than his master, loath to leave him after following him into error, was afterwards baptized with him at Milan, eventually becoming Bishop of Tagaste, his native city. But Monica deeply deplored Augustine’s heresyand would not have received him into her home or at her table but for the advice of a saintly bishop, who declared that “the son of so many tears could not perish.” Soon afterwards Augustine went to Carthage, where he continued to teach rhetoric. His talents shone to even better advantage on this wider stage, and by an indefatigable pursuit of the liberal arts his intellect attained its full maturity. Having taken part in a poetic tournament, he carried off the prize, and the Proconsul Vindicianus publicly conferred upon him the corona agonistica.

It was at this moment of literary intoxication, when he had just completed his first work on æsthetics (now lost) that he began to repudiate Manichæism. Even when Augustine was in his first fervour, the teachings of Mani had been far from quieting his restlessness, and although he has been accused of becoming apriest of the sect, he was never initiated or numbered among the “elect,” but remained an “auditor” the lowest degree in the hierarchy. He himself gives the reason for his disenchantment. First of all there was the fearful depravity of Manichæan philosophy — “They destroy everything and build up nothing”; then, the dreadful immorality in contrast with their affectation of virtue; the feebleness of their arguments in controversy with the Catholics, to whose Scriptural arguments their only reply was: “The Scriptures have been falsified.” But, worse than all, he did not find science among them — science in the modern sense of the word — that knowledge of nature and its laws which they had promised him. When he questioned them concerning the movements of the stars, none of them could answer him. “Wait for Faustus,” they said, “he will explain everything to you.” Faustus of Mileve, the celebrated Manichæan bishop, at last came to Carthage; Augustine visited and questioned him, and discovered in his responses the vulgar rhetorician, the utter stranger to all scientific culture. The spell was broken, and, although Augustine did not immediately abandon the sect, his mind rejected Manichæan doctrines. The illusion had lasted nine years.

But the religious crisis of this great soul was only to be resolved in Italy, under the influence of Ambrose. In 383 Augustine, at the age of twenty-nine, yielded to the irresistible attraction which Italy had for him, but his mother suspected his departure and was so reluctant to be separated from him that he resorted to a subterfuge and embarked under cover of the night. He had only just arrived in Rome when he was taken seriously ill; upon recovering he opened a school of rhetoric, but, disgusted by the tricks of his pupils, who shamelessly defrauded him of their tuition fees, he applied for a vacant professorship at Milan, obtained it, and was accepted by the prefect, Symmachus. Having visited Bishop Ambrose, the fascination of that saint’s kindness induced him to become a regular attendant at his preachings.

However, before embracing the Faith, Augustine underwent a three years’ struggle during which his mind passed through several distinct phases. At first he turned towards the philosophy of the Academics, with its pessimistic scepticism; then neo-Platonic philosophy inspired him with genuine enthusiasm. At Milan he had scarcely read certain works of Plato and, more especially, of Plotinus, before the hope of finding the truth dawned upon him. Once more he began to dream that he and his friends might lead a life dedicated to the search for it, a life purged of all vulgar aspirations after honours, wealth, or pleasure, and with celibacyfor its rule (Confessions VI). But it was only a dream; his passions still enslaved him.

Monica, who had joined her son at Milan, prevailed upon him to become betrothed, but his affianced bride was too young, and although Augustine dismissed the mother of Adeodatus, her place was soon filled by another. Thus did he pass through one last period of struggle and anguish. Finally, through the reading of theHoly Scripture light penetrated his mind. Soon he possessed the certainty that Jesus Christ is the only way to truth and salvation. After that resistance came only from the heart. An interview with Simplicianus, the future successor of St. Ambrose, who told Augustine the story of the conversion of the celebrated neo-Platonic rhetorician, Victorinus (Confessions VIII.1, VIII.2), prepared the way for the grand stroke of grace which, at the age of thirty-three, smote him to the ground in the garden at Milan (September, 386). A few days later Augustine, being ill, took advantage of the autumn holidays and, resigning his professorship, went with Monica, Adeodatus, and his friends to Cassisiacum, the country estate of Verecundus, there to devote himself to the pursuit of true philosophy which, for him, was now inseparable from Christianity.

From his conversion to his episcopate (386-395)

Augustine gradually became acquainted with Christian doctrine, and in his mind the fusion of Platonic philosophy with revealed dogmas was taking place. The lawthat governed this change of thought has of late years been frequently misconstrued; it is sufficiently important to be precisely defined. The solitude of Cassisiacum realized a long-cherished dream. In his books “Against the Academics,” Augustine has described the ideal serenity of this existence, enlivened only by the passion for truth. He completed the education of his young friends, now by literary readings in common, now by philosophical conferences to which he sometimes invited Monica, and the accounts of which, compiled by a secretary, have supplied the foundation of the “Dialogues.” Licentius, in his “Letters,” would later on recall these delightful philosophical mornings and evenings, at which Augustine was wont to evolve the most elevating discussions from the most commonplace incidents. The favourite topics at their conferences were truth, certainty (Against the Academics), true happiness in philosophy (On a Happy Life), the Providential order of the world and the problem of evil (On Order) and finally God and the soul (Soliloquies, On the Immortality of the Soul).

Here arises the curious question propounded modern critics: Was Augustine a Christian when wrote these “Dialogues” at Cassisiacum? Until now no one haddoubted it; historians, relying upon the “Confessions”, had all believed that Augustine’s retirement to the villa had for its twofold object the improvement of his health and his preparation for baptism. But certain critics nowadays claim to have discovered a radical opposition between the philosophical “Dialogues” composed in this retirement and the state of soul described in the “Confessions”. According to Harnack, in writing the “Confessions” Augustine must have projected upon the recluse of 386 the sentiments of the bishop of 400. Others go farther and maintain that the recluse of the Milanese villa could not have been at heart a Christian, but a Platonist; and that the scene in the garden was a conversion not to Christianity, but to philosophy, the genuinely Christian phase beginning only in 390.

But this interpretation of the “Dialogues” cannot withstand the test of facts and texts. It is admitted that Augustine received baptism at Easter, 387; and who could suppose that it was for him a meaningless ceremony? So too, how can it be admitted that the scene in the garden, the example of the recluses, the reading of St. Paul, the conversion of Victorinus, Augustine’s ecstasies in reading the Psalms with Monica were all invented after the fact? Again, as it was in 388 that Augustine wrote his beautiful apology “On the Holiness of the Catholic Church,” how is it conceivable that he was not yet a Christian at that date? To settle the argument, however, it is only necessary to read the “Dialogues” themselves. They are certainly a purely philosophical work — a work of youth, too, not without some pretension, as Augustine ingenuously acknowledges (Confessions IX.4); nevertheless, they contain the entire history of his Christian formation. As early as 386, the first work written at Cassisiacum reveals to us the great underlying motive of his researches. The object of his philosophy is to give authority the support of reason, and “for him the great authority, that which dominates all others and from which he never wished to deviate, is the authority of Christ”; and if he loves the Platonists it is because he counts on finding among them interpretations always in harmony with his faith (Against the Academics, III, c. x). To be sure such confidence was excessive, but it remains evident that in these “Dialogues” it is a Christian, and not a Platonist, that speaks. He reveals to us the intimate details of his conversion, the argument that convinced him (the life and conquests of the Apostles), his progress in the Faith at the school of St. Paul(ibid., II, ii), his delightful conferences with his friends on the Divinity of Jesus Christ, the wonderful transformations worked in his soul by faith, even to that victory of his over the intellectual pride which his Platonic studies had aroused in him (On The Happy Life, I, ii), and at last the gradual calming of his passionsand the great resolution to choose wisdom for his only spouse (Soliloquies, I, x).

It is now easy to appreciate at its true value the influence of neo-Platonism upon the mind of the great African Doctor. It would be impossible for anyone who has read the works of St. Augustine to deny the existence of this influence. However, it would be a great exaggeration of this influence to pretend that it at any time sacrificed the Gospel to Plato. The same learned critic thus wisely concludes his study: “So long, therefore, as his philosophy agrees with his religious doctrines, St. Augustine is frankly neo-Platonist; as soon as a contradiction arises, he never hesitates to subordinate his philosophy to religion, reason to faith. He was, first of all, a Christian; the philosophical questions that occupied his mind constantly found themselves more and more relegated to the background” (op. cit., 155). But the method was a dangerous one; in thus seeking harmony between the two doctrines he thought too easily to find Christianity in Plato, or Platonism in theGospel. More than once, in his “Retractations” and elsewhere, he acknowledges that he has not always shunned this danger. Thus he had imagined that inPlatonism he discovered the entire doctrine of the Word and the whole prologue of St. John. He likewise disavowed a good number of neo-Platonic theories which had at first misled him — the cosmological thesis of the universal soul, which makes the world one immense animal — the Platonic doubts upon that grave question: Is there a single soul for all or a distinct soul for each? But on the other hand, he had always reproached the Platonists, as Schaff very properly remarks (Saint Augustine, New York, 1886, p. 51), with being ignorant of, or rejecting, the fundamental points of Christianity: “first, the great mystery, the Word made flesh; and then love, resting on the basis of humility.” They also ignore grace, he says, giving sublime precepts of morality without any help towards realizing them.

It was this Divine grace that Augustine sought in Christian baptism. Towards the beginning of Lent, 387, he went to Milan and, with Adeodatus and Alypius, took his place among the competentes, being baptized by Ambrose on Easter Day, or at least during Eastertide. The tradition maintaining that the Te Deum was sung on that occasion by the bishop and the neophyte alternately is groundless. Nevertheless this legend is certainly expressive of the joy of the Church upon receiving as her son him who was to be her most illustrious doctor. It was at this time that Augustine, Alypius, and Evodius resolved to retire into solitude inAfrica. Augustine undoubtedly remained at Milan until towards autumn, continuing his works: “On the Immortality of the Soul” and “On Music.” In the autumn of 387, he was about to embark at Ostia, when Monica was summoned from this life. In all literature there are no pages of more exquisite sentiment than the story of her saintly death and Augustine’s grief (Confessions IX). Augustine remained several months in Rome, chiefly engaged in refuting Manichæism. He sailed forAfrica after the death of the tyrant Maximus (August 388) and after a short sojourn in Carthage, returned to his native Tagaste. Immediately upon arriving there, he wished to carry out his idea of a perfect life, and began by selling all his goods and giving the proceeds to the poor. Then he and his friends withdrew to his estate, which had already been alienated, there to lead a common life in poverty, prayer, and the study of sacred letters. Book of the “LXXXIII Questions” is the fruit of conferences held in this retirement, in which he also wrote “De Genesi contra Manichæos,” “De Magistro,” and, “De Vera Religione.”

Augustine did not think of entering the priesthood, and, through fear of the episcopacy, he even fled from cities in which an election was necessary. One day, having been summoned to Hippo by a friend whose soul’s salvation was at stake, he was praying in a church when the people suddenly gathered about him, cheered him, and begged Valerius, the bishop, to raise him to the priesthood. In spite of his tears Augustine was obliged to yield to their entreaties, and wasordained in 391. The new priest looked upon his ordination as an additional reason for resuming religious life at Tagaste, and so fully did Valerius approve that he put some church property at Augustine’s disposal, thus enabling him to establish a monastery the second that he had founded. His priestly ministry of five years was admirably fruitful; Valerius had bidden him preach, in spite of the deplorable custom which in Africa reserved that ministry to bishops. Augustine combatedheresy, especially Manichæism, and his success was prodigious. Fortunatus, one of their great doctors, whom Augustine had challenged in public conference, was so humiliated by his defeat that he fled from Hippo. Augustine also abolished the abuse of holding banquets in the chapels of the martyrs. He took part, 8 October, 393, in the Plenary Council of Africa, presided over by Aurelius, Bishop of Carthage, and, at the request of the bishops, was obliged to deliver a discourse which, in its completed form, afterwards became the treatise “De Fide et symbolo”.

As bishop of Hippo (396-430)

Enfeebled by old age, Valerius, Bishop of Hippo, obtained the authorization of Aurelius, Primate of Africa, to associate Augustine with himself as coadjutor. Augustine had to resign himself to consecration at the hands of Megalius, Primate of Numidia. He was then forty two, and was to occupy the See of Hippo for thirty-four years. The new bishop understood well how to combine the exercise of his pastoral duties with the austerities of the religious life, and although he left his convent, his episcopal residence became a monastery where he lived a community life with his clergy, who bound themselves to observe religious poverty. Was it an order of regular clerics or of monks that he thus founded? This is a question often asked, but we feel that Augustine gave but little thought to such distinctions. Be that as it may, the episcopal house of Hippo became a veritable nursery which supplied the founders of the monasteries that were soon spread all over Africa and the bishops who occupied the neighbouring sees. Possidius (Vita S. August., xxii) enumerates ten of the saint’s friends and disciples who were promoted to the episcopacy. Thus it was that Augustine earned the title of patriarch of the religious, and renovator of the clerical, life in Africa.

But he was above all the defender of truth and the shepherd of souls. His doctrinal activities, the influence of which was destined to last as long as the Churchitself, were manifold: he preached frequently, sometimes for five days consecutively, his sermons breathing a spirit of charity that won all hearts; he wroteletters which scattered broadcast through the then known world his solutions of the problems of that day; he impressed his spirit upon divers African councils at which he assisted, for instance, those of Carthage in 398, 401, 407, 419 and of Mileve in 416 and 418; and lastly struggled indefatigably against all errors. To relate these struggles were endless; we shall, therefore, select only the chief controversies and indicate in each the doctrinal attitude of the great Bishop ofHippo.

The Manichæan controversy and the problem of evil

After Augustine became bishop the zeal which, from the time of his baptism, he had manifested in bringing his former co-religionists into the true Church, took on a more paternal form without losing its pristine ardour — “let those rage against us who know not at what a bitter cost truth is attained. . . . As for me, I should show you the same forbearance that my brethren had for me when I blind, was wandering in your doctrines” (Contra Epistolam Fundamenti 3). Among the most memorable events that occurred during this controversy was the great victory won in 404 over Felix, one of the “elect” of the Manichæans and the great doctor of the sect. He was propagating his errors in Hippo, and Augustine invited him to a public conference the issue of which would necessarily cause a great stir; Felix declared himself vanquished, embraced the Faith, and, together with Augustine, subscribed the acts of the conference. In his writings Augustine successively refuted Mani (397), the famous Faustus (400), Secundinus (405), and (about 415) the fatalistic Priscillianists whom Paulus Orosius had denouncedto him. These writings contain the saint’s clear, unquestionable views on the eternal problem of evil, views based on an optimism proclaiming, like the Platonists, that every work of God is good and that the only source of moral evil is the liberty of creatures (City of God XIX.13.2). Augustine takes up the defence of free will, even in man as he is, with such ardour that his works against the Manichæan are an inexhaustible storehouse of arguments in this still living controversy.

In vain have the Jansenists maintained that Augustine was unconsciously a Pelagian and that he afterwards acknowledged the loss of liberty through the sin ofAdam. Modern critics, doubtless unfamiliar with Augustine’s complicated system and his peculiar terminology, have gone much farther. In the “Revue d’histoire et de littérature religieuses” (1899, p. 447), M. Margival exhibits St. Augustine as the victim of metaphysical pessimism unconsciously imbibed from Manichæandoctrines. “Never,” says he, “will the Oriental idea of the necessity and the eternity of evil have a more zealous defender than this bishop.” Nothing is more opposed to the facts. Augustine acknowledges that he had not yet understood how the first good inclination of the will is a gift of God (Retractions, I, xxiii, n, 3); but it should be remembered that he never retracted his leading theories on liberty, never modified his opinion upon what constitutes its essential condition, that is to say, the full power of choosing or of deciding. Who will dare to say that in revising his own writings on so important a point he lacked either clearness of perception or sincerity?

The Donatist controversy and the theory of the Church

The Donatist schism was the last episode in the Montanist and Novatian controversies which had agitated the Church from the second century. While the East was discussing under varying aspects the Divine and Christological problem of the Word, the West, doubtless because of its more practical genius, took up themoral question of sin in all its forms. The general problem was the holiness of the Church; could the sinner be pardoned, and remain in her bosom? In Africa the question especially concerned the holiness of the hierarchy. The bishops of Numidia, who, in 312, had refused to accept as valid the consecration of Cæcilian,Bishop of Carthage, by a traditor, had inaugurated the schism and at the same time proposed these grave questions: Do the hierarchical powers depend upon the moral worthiness of the priest? How can the holiness of the Church be compatible with the unworthiness of its ministers?

At the time of Augustine’s arrival in Hippo, the schism had attained immense proportions, having become identified with political tendencies — perhaps with a national movement against Roman domination. In any event, it is easy to discover in it an undercurrent of anti-social revenge which the emperors had to combat by strict laws. The strange sect known as “Soldiers of Christ,” and called by Catholics Circumcelliones (brigands, vagrants), resembled the revolutionary sects of the Middle Ages in point of fanatic destructiveness — a fact that must not be lost sight of, if the severe legislation of the emperors is to be properly appreciated.

The history of Augustine’s struggles with the Donatists is also that of his change of opinion on the employment of rigorous measures against the heretics; and theChurch in Africa, of whose councils he had been the very soul, followed him in the change. This change of views is solemnly attested by the Bishop of Hippohimself, especially in his Letters, 93 (in the year 408). In the beginning, it was by conferences and a friendly controversy that he sought to re-establish unity. He inspired various conciliatory measures of the African councils, and sent ambassadors to the Donatists to invite them to re-enter the Church, or at least to urge them to send deputies to a conference (403). The Donatists met these advances at first with silence, then with insults, and lastly with such violence thatPossidius Bishop of Calamet, Augustine’s friend, escaped death only by flight, the Bishop of Bagaïa was left covered with horrible wounds, and the life of theBishop of Hippo himself was several times attempted (Letter 88, to Januarius, the Donatist bishop). This madness of the Circumcelliones required harsh repression, and Augustine, witnessing the many conversions that resulted therefrom, thenceforth approved rigid laws. However, this important restriction must be pointed out: that St. Augustine never wished heresy to be punishable by death — Vos rogamus ne occidatis (Letter 100, to the Proconsul Donatus). But thebishops still favoured a conference with the schismatics, and in 410 an edict issued by Honorius put an end to the refusal of the Donatists. A solemn conference took place at Carthage, in June, 411, in presence of 286 Catholic, and 279 Donatist bishops. The Donatist spokesmen were Petilian of Constantine, Primian of Carthage, and Emeritus of Cæsarea; the Catholic orators, Aurelius and Augustine. On the historic question then at issue, the Bishop of Hippo proved the innocence of Cæcilian and his consecrator Felix, and in the dogmatic debate he established the Catholic thesis that the Church, as long as it is upon earth, can, without losing its holiness, tolerate sinners within its pale for the sake of converting them. In the name of the emperor the Proconsul Marcellinus sanctioned the victory of the Catholics on all points. Little by little Donatism died out, to disappear with the coming of the Vandals.

So amply and magnificently did Augustine develop his theory on the Church that, according to Specht “he deserves to be named the Doctor of the Church as well as the Doctor of Grace”; and Möhler (Dogmatik, 351) is not afraid to write: “For depth of feeling and power of conception nothing written on the Church since St. Paul’s time, is comparable to the works of St. Augustine.” He has corrected, perfected, and even excelled the beautiful pages of St. Cyprian on the Divine institution of the Church, its authority, its essential marks, and its mission in the economy of grace and the administration of the sacraments. The Protestantcritics, Dorner, Bindemann, Böhringer and especially Reuter, loudly proclaim, and sometimes even exaggerate, this rôle of the Doctor of Hippo; and while Harnack does not quite agree with them in every respect he does not hesitate to say (History of Dogma, II, c. iii): “It is one of the points upon which Augustine specially affirms and strengthens the Catholic idea…. He was the first [!] to transform the authority of the Church into a religious power, and to confer upon practical religion the gift of a doctrine of the Church.” He was not the first, for Dorner acknowledges (Augustinus, 88) that Optatus of Mileve had expressed the basis of the same doctrines. Augustine, however, deepened, systematized, and completed the views of St. Cyprian and Optatus. But it is impossible here to go into detail. (See Specht, Die Lehre von der Kirche nach dem hl. Augustinus, Paderborn, 1892.)

The Pelagian controversy and the Doctor of Grace

The close of the struggle against the Donatists almost coincided with the beginnings of a very grave theological dispute which not only was to demand Augustine’s unremitting attention up to the time of his death, but was to become an eternal problem for individuals and for the Church. Farther on we shall enlarge upon Augustine’s system; here we need only indicate the phases of the controversy. Africa, where Pelagius and his disciple Celestius had sought refuge after the taking of Rome by Alaric, was the principal centre of the first Pelagian disturbances; as early as 412 a council held at Carthage condemned Pelagians for their attacks upon the doctrine of original sin. Among other books directed against them by Augustine was his famous “De naturâ et gratiâ”. Thanks to his activity the condemnation of these innovators, who had succeeded in deceiving a synod convened at Diospolis in Palestine, was reiterated by councils held later at Carthage and Mileve and confirmed by Pope Innocent I (417). A second period of Pelagian intrigues developed at Rome, but Pope Zosimus, whom the stratagems of Celestius had for a moment deluded, being enlightened by Augustine, pronounced the solemn condemnation of these heretics in 418. Thenceforth the combat was conducted in writing against Julian of Eclanum, who assumed the leadership of the party and violently attacked Augustine.

Towards 426 there entered the lists a school which afterwards acquired the name of Semipelagian, the first members being monks of Hadrumetum in Africa, who were followed by others from Marseilles, led by Cassian, the celebrated abbot of Saint-Victor. Unable to admit the absolute gratuitousness of predestination, they sought a middle course between Augustine and Pelagius, and maintained that grace must be given to those who merit it and denied to others; hence goodwill has the precedence, it desires, it asks, and God rewards. Informed of their views by Prosper of Aquitaine, the holy Doctor once more expounded, in “De Prædestinatione Sanctorum”, how even these first desires for salvation are due to the grace of God, which therefore absolutely controls our predestination.

Struggles against Arianism and closing years

In 426 the holy Bishop of Hippo, at the age of seventy-two, wishing to spare his episcopal city the turmoil of an election after his death, caused both clergy and people to acclaim the choice of the deacon Heraclius as his auxiliary and successor, and transferred to him the administration of externals. Augustine might then have enjoyed some rest had Africa not been agitated by the undeserved disgrace and the revolt of Count Boniface (427). The Goths, sent by the Empress Placidia to oppose Boniface, and the Vandals, whom the latter summoned to his assistance, were all Arians. Maximinus, an Arian bishop, entered Hippo with the imperial troops. The holy Doctor defended the Faith at a public conference (428) and in various writings. Being deeply grieved at the devastation of Africa, he laboured to effect a reconciliation between Count Boniface and the empress. Peace was indeed reestablished, but not with Genseric, the Vandal king. Boniface, vanquished, sought refuge in Hippo, whither many bishops had already fled for protection and this well fortified city was to suffer the horrors of an eighteen months’ siege. Endeavouring to control his anguish, Augustine continued to refute Julian of Eclanum; but early in the siege he was stricken with what he realized to be a fatal illness, and, after three months of admirable patience and fervent prayer, departed from this land of exile on 28 August, 430, in the seventy-sixth year of his age.

 

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Traditional Catholic Good From Bad

Last Thursday I stopped for a school bus, with red lights on, going in the other direction.  A young woman rear ended me.  I feel bad for her, (and for the damage to her car, looked totaled to me), because I did have to stop rather quickly.   There was no other choice, there was a car stopped for the school bus in front of me too.  Thank God no one was hurt.  IMG_4863

FullSizeRenderThe police arrived and made a police report.  He asked me if I was wearing my seat built? I was tempted to lie, but I did not, I told him the truth that I was not wearing it.  How easy it seemed to me to lie, but it is never worth lying when God knows well the truth.

I need my van to get around, so, the next day I went to a junkyard to buy a used light to keep my van legal. I first went to one and he didn’t have one, but was so kind to go on the internet and find me one not far from him.  IMG_4876

I went to Garcia Junkyard and they were very kind and sold me one for $30.  I asked them if it might be possible to pay to have it put on.  The kind worker, (who worked in the hot sun, 107 degrees), bent the light socket, and after much trouble secured on the new rear light.  I gave them $50, even though the owner was saying only $30.  I was very happy to have the car legal.IMG_4873

Today, on my way to visit parishioners in the jail, I passed by the two junkyards.  I stopped at the first one to just go in and thank the man for taking the time to find for me the rear light.  Then I stopped into Garcia’s Junk yard to thank them too.  IMG_4875

The owner’s name is Jesus.  He asked me how much I would charge to bless his junk yard.  I said; ‘The price of him and all the people who work there to be living holy lives.’  He told me that he does go to mass every Sunday and another man does too.  I also told him that he had to treat his employees well and be honest in all his dealings.  He said he does.  So I blessed the Junkyard and the office using the Latin Prayer for blessing houses, (but put in shop instead), with exorcized Holy Water.  I explained the power of Latin and exorcized Holy Water.  He said if I ever need any junk parts in the future, he will given them to me for free.  IMG_4874

We are so blessed to be traditional Catholics who help people and are helped by them as well.  Let us always go out of our way to kind and to thank everyone who had done some kindness to us.  And let us spread the word about these kind people’s actions.

St. Joseph Calasanctius – August 27th

St. Joseph CalasanctiusCalled in religion “a Matre Dei”, founder of the Piarists, b. 11 Sept., 1556, at the castle of Calasanza near Petralta de la Sal in Aragon; d. 25 Aug., 1648, at Rome; feast 27 Aug. His parents, Don Pedro Calasanza and Donna Maria Gastonia, gave Joseph, the youngest of five children, a good education at home and then at the school of Petralta.

After his classical studies at Estadilla he took up philosophy and jurisprudence at Lerida and merited the degree of Doctor of Laws, and then with honours completed his theological course at Valencia and Alcalá de Henares.

His mother and brother having died, Don Pedro wanted Joseph to marry and perpetuate the family. God interfered by sending a sickness in 1582 which soon brought Joseph to the brink of the grave. On his recovery he was ordained priest 17 Dec., 1583, by Hugo Ambrose de Moncada, Bishop of Urgel. Joseph began his labours as priest in the Diocese of Albarracin, where Bishop della Figuera appointed him his theologian and confessor, synodal examiner, and procurator, and when the bishop was transferred to Lerida his theologian followed him to the new diocese. In 1586 della Figuera was sent as Apostolic visitator to the Abbey of Montserrat, and Joseph accompanied him as secretary.

The bishop died the following year and Joseph left, though urgently requested to remain. He hurried to Calasanza only to be present at the death of his father. He was then called by his Bishop of Urgel to act as vicar-general for the district of Trempe. In 1592 he embarked for Rome, where he found a protector in Cardinal Marcantonio Colonna who chose him as his theologian and instructor to his nephew.

Rome offered a splendid field for works of charity, especially for the instruction of neglected and homeless children, many of whom had lost their parents. Joseph joined a Confraternity of Christian Doctrine and gathered the boys and girls from the streets and brought them to school. The teachers, being poorly paid, refused to accept the additional labour without remuneration.

The pastor of S. Dorotea, Anthony Brendani, offered him two rooms and promised assistance in teaching, and when two other priests promised similar help, Joseph, in November, 1597, opened the first public free school in Europe. Pope Clement VIII gave an annual contribution and many others shared in the good work, so that in a short time Joseph had about a thousand children under his charge.

In 1602 he rented a house at S. Andrea della Valle and commenced a community life with his assistants and laid the foundation of the Order of Piarists. Much envy and opposition arose against him and his new institute, but all were overcome in time. In 1612 the school was transferred to the Torres palace adjoining S. Pantaleone.

Here Joseph spent the remaining years of his life in his chosen calling. He lived and died a faithful son of the church, a true friend of forsaken children. His body rests in S. Paltaleone. His beatification was solemnized on 7 Aug., 1748, and his canonization by Clement XIII, 16 July, 1767.

 

— From the Catholic Encyclopedia

Is Gambling At Casinos A Sin For Catholics # 2

Most people who go to gamble at casinos, bet on sports, horses or play the lottery are attracted to the idea of getting rich easily without working for it.   But the matter of fact is that most of them loose their money and a very few win money.  The odds are stacked very high against them.  Yet, that slight chance of getting rich, draws them to waste their money and time, (life).iu

We read in the Bible that, ‘The love of money is the root of all evil’.  1 Timothy 6:10.  Most people seek money above all things because they are under the false impression that once they have money they will be eternally happy.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Yes we need money to live on and the deprivation of money can cause great suffering.  But money, in and of itself, is not what makes us happy or sad.  It may make us happy for a short time, but then we are back to our very selves again, happy or sad.  It is God, family, friends, animals, nature a clean conscience that makes us happy.

At the casinos there is either free alcohol, (for the big players), or inexpensive alcohol for the rest.  The purpose of this is to get people somewhat drunk so that they are careless and can loose a lot of money without really being aware of it.  There is inexpensive buffets too that attract people too.iu

They also deceitfully change your real money, that you are attached to and know its value only too well, to chips with $ signs on them.  When you loose cash, you feel it.  When you loose these chips, your are not so aware of it because it is a step away from the real thing, cash.   The casinos are not our friends.  They are there to take away our money.

I now try to never use the word addiction or addict because it is used in the world today to  say that someone has an illness of getting drunk, using drugs or gambling.  The person has very little moral responsibility over their actions because they have no control over their addictions.  The free will has been removed and there for it is not sinful.

But the word I use is vice.  Vice is a repeated bad habit or sin that then becomes habitual. Yes, we need God’s grace to brake bad vices by confession and sacrifice, but we are still responsible for our vices.  We still go to hell for vices that we did not fight or confess.  So, that being said, gambling can easily become a vice where it becomes compulsive and where we can waste our life, (time), and money.

I have known people who have lost their families money, stolen money to gamble and have gone bankrupt gambling.  One lady came to see me because she had bailed out her husband over their married life something like $200,000 or more.  She knew it was wrong, but he will always tell her that the mafia was about to kill him, (which was true).  So she would bail him out again and again.  That money was for their children’s education and other plans that never got realized.  I also knew a man who would steal dollars from his little children to gamble.iu

Here are some signs to see if you have the gambling vice.

  • Excessive time spent on gambling websites or at casinos or other gambling venues
  • Unusual increases or decreases in available spending money
  • Feeling jittery and agitated when not gambling
  • Purchasing excessive numbers of lottery tickets or scratch off tickets
  • Feeling anger and anxiety when unable to gain access to sources of gambling
  • Missing work and family events in order to spend time gambling

So all this being said, I say that the motive to gamble, bet and play the lottery is sinful in itself; avarice and greed for money so as to be happy.  Jesus said in the beatitudes that happiness is in being poor of heart; ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’.  He also said terrible warnings to the rich; ‘Woe to you rich’, ‘It is harder for a rich man to get into heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle’.

We must then use our extra money for the Church, the poor or to help others.  We need to be happy right now with what God has given.  Besides, extremely few people get rich from gambling, betting or the lottery.  Lets be wise and holy.  Thank God we have what we have and let us be generous with others if we have extra.

We are so blessed to be traditional Catholics and to know that God is our happiness and heaven our home.

Traditional Catholic Real Presence Of Jesus In Eucharist

transubThe heart of our Catholic faith is Jesus/God, truly present in the Holy Eucharist or in what we also call, Holy Communion in the Holy Mass and in the tabernacles of the Catholic churches.  That is why we are so adamant about the Latin Mass where the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ are so guarded against even a crumb or a drop are to fall on the ground or to be treated without respect.  5 - Adoration of the Eucharist, by Jeronimo Jacinto Espinosa, 1650

I brought a fallen away Catholic back to the Church simply by studying with her, and our Bible study group the Church Fathers ancient documents showing that they all believed in the real presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.  So I want to share a web site that all of you can go and read what the earliest Catholic Christians believed about the true presence.  It is therealpresence.org.  You can direct your Catholic and protestant friends to this site, or you can copy and send it to them.  Here is the list they have.  I may put out a few at a time everyday.

The Bible The Didache St. Clement of Rome
St. Ignatius of Antioch St. Justin Martyr St. Irenaeus of Lyons
St. Clement of Alexandria St. Cyprian of Carthage Aphraates the Persian Sage
Serapion St. Ephraim St. Athanasius
St. Cyril of Jerusalem St. Hilary of Poiters St. Basil the Great
St. Epiphanius of Salamis St. Gregory of Nazianz St. Gregory of Nyssa
St. John Chrysostom St. Ambrose of Milan Egeria
Aurelius Prudentius Clemens St. Jerome Apostolic Constitutions
St. Cyril of Alexandria St. Augustine Marcarius the Magnesian
St. Leo I St. Caesar of Arles St. Fulgene of Ruspe

St. Zephyrinus – August 26th

Pope_ZephyrinusDate of birth unknown; died 20 Dec., 217. After the death of Pope Victor in 198, Zephyrinus was elected his successor and consecrated. The pope is described by Hippolytus in the “Philosophymena” (IX, xi) as a simple man without education.

This is evidently to be understood as meaning that Zephyrinus had not taken the higher studies and had devoted himself to the practical administration of the Church and not to theological learning. Immediately after his elevation to the Roman See, Zephyrinus called to Rome the confessor Callistus, who lived at Antium and who had received a monthly pension from Pope Victor, and intrusted him with the oversight of the coemeterium.

It is evident that shortly before this the Roman Christian community had, under Victor, become the owner of a common place of burial on the Via Appia, and Zephyrinus now placed Callistus over this cemetery which was given the name of Callistus. Undoubtedly Callistus was also made a deacon of the Roman Church by Zephyrinus. He was the confidential counsellor of the pope, whom he succeeded. The positions of the Christians, which had remained favourable in the first years of the government of Emperor Septimus Severus (193-211), grew constantly worse, and in 202 or 203 the edict of persecution appeared which forbade conversion to Christianity under the severest penalties. Nothing is known as to the execution of the edict in Rome itself nor of the martyrs of the Roman Church in this era.

More, however, is certain concerning the internal disputes in the Roman Church over the doctrine of the Trinity. The adherents of the heretical teacher Theodotus the Tanner had been excommunicated with their leader by Pope Victor. They formed an independent heretical community at Rome which was ruled by another Theodotus, the Money Changer, and Aselepodotus. These men persuaded a confessor of Rome named Natalis, who had acknowledged his faith without wavering before the heathen judge and had suffered torture, to permit himself to be made the bishop of the sect for a monthly payment of 170 denarii. Natalis, however, received many warnings in dreams. At first he paid no attention to these visions, but on one occasion he believed that he had been severely tortured by angels and now he began to ponder the matter. Early in the morning he put on a penitential garment, covered himself with ashes, and threw himself with tears at the feet of Zephyrinus.

He confessed his wrong-doing and begged to be received again into the communion of the Church, which was finally granted him (Eusebius, “Hist. eccl.”, V, xxxii). In the same era the adherents of Montanus also worked with great energy at Rome. The Montanist Proculus (or Proclus) published a work in defense of the new prophecies. A refutation of Proclus in the form of a dialogue was written by a learned and rigidly orthodox Roman Christian named Caius, wherein he refers to the grave of St. Peter on the Vatican Hill and of St. Paul on the Via Ostiensis. Caius rejects the Apocalypse of St. John, which he regards as a work of the heretic Cerinthus. In opposition to Caius, Hippolytus wrote his “Capita contra Caium” (cf. Eusebius, “Hist. eccl.”, III, xxviii; VI, xx).

Hippolytus was the most important theologian among the Roman presbyters of this era. He was an avowed adherent of the doctrine of the Divine Logos. He taught that the Divine Logos became man in Christ, that the Logos differs in every thing from God, that he is the mediary between God and the world of creatures. This doctrine in the form in which it was set forth by Hippolytus and his school aroused many doubts, and another theological school appeared in opposition to it.

This latter school was represented at Rome in this era by Cleomenes and particularly by Sabellius. These men were rigid opponents of the Theodotians, but were not willing to acknowledge the incarnation of the Logos, and emphasized above all the absolute unity (monarchia) of God. They explained the Incarnation of Christ in the sense that this was another manifestation (modus) of God in His union with human nature. Consequently they were called Modalists or Patripassians, as according to them it was not the Son of God but the Father Who had been crucified. The Christian common people held firmly, above all, to the Unity of God and at the same time to the true Godhead of Jesus Christ. Originally no distrust of this doctrine was felt among them. Pope Zephyrinus did not interpose authoritatively in the dispute between the two schools. The heresy of the Modalists was not at first clearly evident, and the doctrine of Hippolytus offered many difficulties as regards the tradition of the Church.

Zephyrinus said simply that he acknowledged only one God, and this was the Lord Jesus Christ, but it was the Son, not the Father, Who had died. This was the doctrine of the tradition of the Church. Hippolytus urged that the pope should approve of a distinct dogma which represented the Person of Christ as actually different from that of the Father and condemned the opposing views of the Monarchians and Patripassians. However, Zephyrinus would not consent to this. The result was that Hippolytus grew constantly more irritated and angry against he pope and particularly against the deacon Callistus whom, as the councillor of the pope, he made responsible for the position of the latter. When after the death of Zephyrinus Callistus was elected Roman bishop, Hippolytus withdrew from the Church with his scholars, caused a schism, and made himself a rival bishop.

Zephyrinus was buried in a separate sepulchral chamber over the cemetery of Calistus on the Via Appia (cf. Wilpert, “Die papstgruber und die Suciliengruft in der Katakombe des hl. Kallistus”, Freiburg, 1909, 91 sqq.). The “Liber Pontificalis” attributes two Decrees to Zephyrinus; one on the ordination of the clergy and the other on the Eucharistic Liturgy in the title churches of Rome. The author of the biography has ascribed these Decrees to the pope arbitrarily and without historical basis.

 

— From the Catholic Encyclopedia

Can Traditional Catholics Attend Ex-Catholic’s Weddings

First and foremost, I want to say that the Holy Sacrament of Marriage is extremely sacred and the glue that keeps society together. 2012copenhagentlmwedding_ratificationIt is a covenant till ‘death do us part’.  Jesus clearly spoke of the indissolubility of Marriage:

Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. Matthew 19:6

Our three worst enemies, the devil, the world and the flesh, want to break up the Holy bond on Matrimony so that children, families and society can be destroyed and people can have sensual adulterous relationships.  The devil especially enjoys seeing the children destroyed by divorce, bad marriages and living together.  Seldom are these innocent victims get listened to because they are mere children and have no power over their parents divorce and further messing around with many other partners. Sleeping

Just recently I have been asked if it is alright for someone to attend a wedding outside of the Catholic Church of a baptized Catholic, who no longer practices the Catholic faith.  It depends.  For a Catholic to be truly married in the Catholic Church, they need to be Catholic.  If they have publicly renounced their Catholic Faith and go to a heretical church, they can get validly get married outside the Catholic Church.  All marriages are valid and lifelong for all none Catholics who get married in a heretical church, court or chapel, as long as neither of the parties had been married before.

All ‘marriages’ of baptized Catholics are valid if:

  1. One is a baptized Catholic,
  2. they are freely getting married,
  3. have a priest or deacon witness it,
  4. have two other witnesses,
  5. did all the paper work required by the diocese,
  6. are married in a Catholic Church.

If any of these elements are absent, it is not a valid marriage and the parties can divorce and get remarried in the Catholic Church.  

In these cases the Church has a process called ‘lack of form’ that proves that a baptized Catholic, married outside the Catholic Church, was not validly married and is free to get married in the Catholic Church, (after having been married outside the Church and divorced).  But this is only so if they are baptized and have never publicly renounced their Catholic faith.  Their marriage outside the Church was not valid and therefore they are free to marry another person in the Catholic Church if he or she is also free to be married, (never been married in the Catholic church before or is a widower/widow).  baptism

So in the case of an unmarried baptized Catholic, who has publicly renounced the Catholic faith and is marrying an other unmarried non-Catholic person, you can attend this wedding because it will be valid.  But I do not know why someone would want to go to a wedding of a Catholic who publicly renounced the faith of Jesus Christ.

Most Catholics wrongly, even conservative ones, go to all marriages, whether the ones who are getting married were married before and are divorced and remarrying again or if it is Catholics getting married in a non Catholic ceremony.  They usually do it because they were invited, they do not want the family to be mad at them, they want to be supportive and because they do not want to be judgmental.  Divorce-Annulment-1024x683

Almost all of my baptized nephews and nieces got married outside the Church in a secular weddings.  I will not and have not ever attend these ‘weddings’.  The ‘Vatican II effect’ has worked well on all my nephews and nieces because they are baptized but do not go the the Catholic Church and very vaguely consider themselves Catholics.

St. John the Baptist lost his head over protecting marriage.  Who are we to approve of marriages that God would not approve of.

We are so blessed to be traditional Catholics and to know that God wants the marriage bond to be permanent to protect the husband, wife, children and society in general.

Apostasy Don Pietro Leone # 6

Tynemouth_PrioryAspiration

Although the World and large sections of the Church may to-day lie in darkness, we are not, and shall not, be engulfed in it. ‘The light shineth in the darkness: and the  darkness did not comprehend it’ (Jn. 1.5). As St. Paul writes (I Thess. 5. 4-8): ‘But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. For all you are the children of light and children of the day: we are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do: but let us watch, and be sober. For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that are drunk, are drunk in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, having on the breast-plate of faith and charity, and, for a helmet, the hope of salvation.’

We shall not be engulfed in the darkness of the World, no, but we will occupy ourselves with the business of our salvation. In so doing we shall also be the light of the world to those around us, as Our Blessed Lord commands us, and as St. Paul states (Phil. 2.15): ‘That you may be blameless and sincere children of God, without reproof, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation: among whom you shine as lights in the world’.

We conclude this essay with a quotation from perhaps the most profound book on the Roman Rite: ‘The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass’ by the Revd. Dr. Nikolaus Gihr, Herder 1938, (Bk.1 ch.3 a.3, s.2, p.226), a quotation which should inspire in us the self-same Christian sentiments:

‘No pen is able to describe the ardent zeal, the generosity, the energy, the purity of heart and greatness of soul, the magnanimity and meekness, the patience and self-denial – in short, the spirit and love of sacrifice which have flowed forth from the altar for more than eighteen centuries, and made of millions of the children of the Church living holy sacrifices, pleasing unto God (Rom. 12,1).

We too should aspire to be of the number of these her good children, who constitute her crown and joy (Phil. 4,1); we should make ourselves a sacrifice unto God and for our fellow-men by leading a life pure and chaste, active and patient, devout and charitable – a life of sacrifice. Can the life of the true children of God and of the Church in an anti-Christian age and in a world estranged from God be anything than a life of continual sacrifice? ‘All that will live godly in Christ, shall suffer persecution’ (2. Tim. 3,12).

Only in the glow of fire does incense exhale its sweet odours, only in the crucible does gold acquire its purity and lustre; thus also must we be tested, purified and proved in the crucible of suffering and tribulation, that the fruitful seeds of virtue may blossom in us, and that we may attain eternal joy and glory.

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.   Amen.

Don Pietro Leone

St. Louis IX, King Of France – August 25th

St. Louis IXKing of France, son of Louis VIII and Blanche of Castile, born at Poissy, 25 April, 1215; died near Tunis, 25 August, 1270.

He was eleven years of age when the death of Louis VIII made him king, and nineteen when he married Marguerite of Provence by whom he had eleven children. The regency of Blanche of Castile (1226-1234) was marked by the victorious struggle of the Crown against Raymond VII in Languedoc, against Pierre Mauclerc in Brittany, against Philip Hurepel in the Ile de France, and by indecisive combats against Henry III of England. In this period of disturbances the queen was powerfully supported by the legate Frangipani. Accredited to Louis VIII by Honorius III as early as 1225, Frangipani won over to the French cause the sympathies of Gregory IX, who was inclined to listen to Henry III, and through his intervention it was decreed that all the chapters of the dioceses should pay to Blanche of Castile tithes for the southern crusade. It was the legate who received the submission of Raymond VII, Count of Languedoc, at Paris, in front of Notre-Dame, and this submission put an end to the Albigensian war and prepared the union of the southern provinces to France by the Treaty of Paris (April 1229). The influence of Blanche de Castile over the government extended far beyond St. Louis’s minority. Even later, in public business and when ambassadors were officially received, she appeared at his side. She died in 1253.

In the first years of the king’s personal government, the Crown had to combat a fresh rebellion against feudalism, led by the Count de la Marche, in league with Henry III. St. Louis’s victory over this coalition at Taillebourg, 1242, was followed by the Peace of Bordeaux which annexed to the French realm a part of Saintonge.

It was one of St. Louis’s chief characteristics to carry on abreast his administration as national sovereign and the performance of his duties towards Christendom; and taking advantage of the respite which the Peace of Bordeaux afforded, he turned his thoughts towards a crusade. Stricken down with a fierce malady in 1244, he resolved to take the cross when news came that Turcomans had defeated the Christians and the Moslems and invaded Jerusalem. (On the two crusades of St. Louis [1248-1249 and 1270] see .) Between the two crusades he opened negotiations with Henry III, which he thought would prevent new conflicts between France and England. The Treaty of Paris (28 May, 1258) which St. Louis concluded with the King of England after five years’ parley, has been very much discussed. By this treaty St. Louis gave Henry III all the fiefs and domains belonging to the King of France in the Dioceses of Limoges, Cahors, and Périgueux; and in the event of Alphonsus of Poitiers dying without issue, Saintonge and Agenais would escheat to Henry III. On the other hand Henry III renounced his claims to Normandy, Anjou, Touraine, Maine, Poitou, and promised to do homage for the Duchy of Guyenne. It was generally considered and Joinville voiced the opinion of the people, that St. Louis made too many territorial concessions to Henry III; and many historians held that if, on the contrary, St. Louis had carried the war against Henry III further, the Hundred Years War would have been averted. But St. Louis considered that by making the Duchy of Guyenne a fief of the Crown of France he was gaining a moral advantage; and it is an undoubted fact that the Treaty of Paris, was as displeasing to the English as it was to the French. In 1263, St. Louis was chosen as arbitrator in a difference which separated Henry III and the English barons: by the Dit d’Amiens (24 January, 1264) he declared himself for Henry III against the barons, and annulled the Provisions of Oxford, by which the barons had attempted to restrict the authority of the king. It was also in the period between the two crusades that St. Louis, by the Treaty of Corbeil, imposed upon the King of Aragon the abandonment of his claims to all the fiefs in Languedoc excepting Montpellier, and the surrender of his rights to Provence (11 May, 1258). Treaties and arbitrations prove St. Louis to have been above all a lover of peace, a king who desired not only to put an end to conflicts, but also to remove the causes for fresh wars, and this spirit of peace rested upon the Christian conception.

St. Louis’s relations with the Church of France and the papal Court have excited widely divergent interpretations and opinions. However, all historians agree that St. Louis and the successive popes united to protect the clergy of France from the encroachments or molestations of the barons and royal officers. It is equally recognized that during the absence of St. Louis at the crusade, Blanche of Castile protected the clergy in 1251 from the plunder and ill-treatment of a mysterious old maurauder called the “Hungarian Master” who was followed by a mob of armed men – called the “Pastoureaux.” The “Hungarian Master” who was said to be in league with the Moslems died in an engagement near Villaneuve and the entire band pursued in every direction was dispersed and annihilated.

But did St. Louis take measures also to defend the independence of the clergy against the papacy? A number of historians once claimed he did. They attributed to St. Louis a certain “pragmatic sanction” of March 1269, prohibiting irregular collations of ecclesiastical benefices, prohibiting simony, and interdicting the tributes which the papal Court received from the French clergy. The Gallicans of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries often made use of this measure against the Holy See; the truth is that it was a forgery fabricated in the fourteenth century by juris-consults desirous of giving to the Pragmatic Sanction of Charles VII a precedent worthy of respect. This so-called pragmatic of Louis IX is presented as a royal decree for the reformation of the Church; never would St. Louis thus have taken upon himself the right to proceed authoritatively with this reformation. When in 1246, a great number of barons from the north and the west leagued against the clergy whom they accused of amassing too great wealth and of encroaching upon their rights, Innocent IV called upon Louis to dissolve this league; how the king acted in the matter is not definitely known. On 2 May, 1247, when the Bishops of Soissons and of Troyes, the archdeacon of Tours, and the provost of the cathedral of Rouen, despatched to the pope a remonstrance against his taxations, his preferment of Italians in the distribution of benefices, against the conflicts between papal jurisdiction and the jurisdiction of the ordinaries, Marshal Ferri Pasté seconded their complaints in the name of St. Louis. Shortly after, these complaints were reiterated and detailed in a lengthy memorandum, the text of which has been preserved by Mathieu Paris, the historian. It is not known whether St. Louis affixed his signature to it, but in any case, this document was simply a request asking for the suppression of the abuses, with no pretensions to laying down principles of public right, as was claimed by the Pragmatic Sanction.

Documents prove that St. Louis did not lend an ear to the grievances of his clergy against the emissaries of Urban IV and Clement IV; he even allowed Clement IV to generalize a custom in 1265 according to which the benefices the titularies of which died while sojourning in Rome, should be disposed of by the pope. Docile to the decrees of the Lateran Council (1215), according to which kings were not to tax the churches of their realm without authority from the pope, St. Louis claimed and obtained from successive popes, in view of the crusade, the right to levy quite heavy taxes from the clergy. It is again this fundamental idea of the crusade, ever present in St. Louis’s thoughts that prompted his attitude generally in the struggle between the empire and the pope. While the Emperor Frederick II and the successive popes sought and contended for France’s support, St. Louis’s attitude was at once decided and reserved. On the one hand he did not accept for his brother Robert of Artois, the imperial crown offered him by Gregory IX in 1240. In his correspondence with Frederick he continued to treat him as a sovereign, even after Frederick had been excommunicated and declared dispossessed of his realms by Innocent IV at the Council of Lyons, 17 July, 1245. But on the other hand, in 1251, the king compelled Frederick to release the French archbishops taken prisoners by the Pisans, the emperor’s auxiliaries, when on their way in a Genoese fleet to attend a general council at Rome. In 1245, he conferred at length, at Cluny, with Innocent IV who had taken refuge in Lyons in December, 1244, to escape the threats of the emperor, and it was at this meeting that the papal dispensation for the marriage of Charles Anjou, brother of Louis IX, to Beatrix, heiress of Provençe was granted and it was then that Louis IX and Blanche of Castile promised Innocent IV their support. Finally, when in 1247 Frederick II took steps to capture Innocent IV at Lyons, the measures Louis took to defend the pope were one of the reasons which caused the emperor to withdraw. St. Louis looked upon every act of hostility from either power as an obstacle to accomplishing the crusade. In the quarrel over investitures, the king kept on friendly terms with both, not allowing the emperor to harass the pope and never exciting the pope against the emperor. In 1262 when Urban offered St. Louis, the Kingdom of Sicily, a fief of the Apostolic See, for one of his sons, St. Louis refused it, through consideration for the Swabian dynasty then reigning; but when Charles of Anjou accepted Urban IV’s offer and went to conquer the Kingdom of Sicily, St. Louis allowed the bravest knights of France to join the expedition which destroyed the power of the Hohenstaufens in Sicily. The king hoped, doubtless, that the possession of Sicily by Charles of Anjou would be advantageous to the crusade.

St. Louis led an exemplary life, bearing constantly in mind his mother’s words: “I would rather see you dead at my feet than guilty of a mortal sin.” His biographers have told us of the long hours he spent in prayer, fasting, and penance, without the knowlege of his subjects. The French king was a great lover of justice. French fancy still pictures him delivering judgements under the oak of Vincennes. It was during his reign that the “court of the king” (curia regis) was organized into a regular court of justice, having competent experts, and judicial commissions acting at regular periods. These commissions were called parlements and the history of the “Dit d’Amiens” proves that entire Christendom willingly looked upon him as an international judiciary. It is an error, however, to represent him as a great legislator; the document known as “Etablissements de St. Louis” was not a code drawn up by order of the king, but merely a collection of customs, written out before 1273 by a jurist who set forth in this book the customs of Orléans, Anjou, and Maine, to which he added a few ordinances of St. Louis.

St. Louis was a patron of architecture. The Sainte Chappelle, an architectural gem, was constructed in his reign, and it was under his patronage that Robert of Sorbonne founded the “Collège de la Sorbonne,” which became the seat of the theological faculty of Paris.

He was renowned for his charity. The peace and blessings of the realm come to us through the poor he would say. Beggars were fed from his table, he ate their leavings, washed their feet, ministered to the wants of the lepers, and daily fed over one hundred poor. He founded many hospitals and houses: the House of the Felles-Dieu for reformed prostitutes; the Quinze-Vingt for 300 blind men (1254), hospitals at Pontoise, Vernon, Compiégne.

The Enseignements (written instructions) which he left to his son Philip and to his daughter Isabel, the discourses preserved by the witnesses at judicial investigations preparatory to his canonization and Joinville’s anecdotes show St. Louis to have been a man of sound common sense, possessing indefatigable energy, graciously kind and of playful humour, and constantly guarding against the temptation to be imperious. The caricature made of him by the envoy of the Count of Gueldre: “worthless devotee, hypocritical king” was very far from the truth. On the contrary, St. Louis, through his personal qualities as well as his saintliness, increased for many centuries the prestige of the French monarchy (see ). St. Louis’s canonization was proclaimed at Orvieto in 1297, by Boniface VIII. Of the inquiries in view of canonization, carried on from 1273 till 1297, we have only fragmentary reports published by Delaborde (“Mémoires de la société de l’histoire de Paris et de l’Ilea de France,” XXIII, 1896) and a series of extracts compiled by Guillaume de St. Pathus, Queen Marguerite’s confessor, under the title of “Vie Monseigneur Saint Loys” (Paris, 1899).

From the Catholic Encyclopedia

Is Gambling At Casinos A Sin For Catholics # 1

Many Novus Ordo parishes organize bus trips for their parishioners to spend a day at casinos for fun and to raise money for the parish.  I feel it is sinful and will try to explain why.  Not only is it sinful, but leads to many other sins like; gluttony, lust, drunkenness, waste of time and money, fraud, cheating, lying, perjury, theft and sets a bad example to others.  Besides this, I feel that these casinos are full of demons of avarice and lust which attach themselves to those who frequent these houses of perdition.  iu

The 1914 Catholic Encyclopedia states: ‘From very early times gambling was forbidden by canon law. Two of the oldest (41, 42) among the so-called canons of the Apostles forbade games of chance under pain of excommunication to clergy and laity alike. The 79th canon of the Council of Elvira (306) decreed that one of the faithful who had been guilty of gambling might be, on amendment, restored to communion after the lapse of a year. A homily (the famous “De Aleatoribus”) long ascribed by St. Cyprian, but by modern scholars variously attributed to Popes Victor I, Callistus I, and Melchiades, and which undoubtedly is a very early and interesting monument of Christian antiquity, is a vigorous denunciation of gambling. The Fourth Lateran Council (1215), by a decree subsequently inserted in the “Corpus Juris”, forbade clerics to play or to be present at games of chance.’

shutterstock_112414511But then, later on in the article it states:

‘Theologians commonly require four conditions so that gaming may not be illicit.

  • What is staked must belong to the gambler and must be at his free disposal. It is wrong, therefore, for the lawyer to stake the money of his client, or for anyone to gamble with what is necessary for the maintenance of his wife and children.
  • The gambler must act freely, without unjust compulsion.
  • There must be no fraud in the transaction, although the usual ruses of the game may be allowed. It is unlawful, accordingly, to mark the cards, but it is permissible to conceal carefully from an opponent the number of trump cards one holds.
  • Finally, there must be some sort of equality between the parties to make the contract equitable; it would be unfair for a combination of two expert whist players to take the money of a couple of mere novices at the game.’

1303168828177At a casinos there is no equality between parties.  They rig their machines to, in the long run, always win.  They are the experts and the players are at a disadvantage against the built in odds that the casino has programed into their slot machines and games.

We are so blessed to be traditional Catholics and to know that our life and money are precious and to be used for God’s Kingdom, not for wasting it gambling in the hopes to get easy money we did not work for, besides frivolously wasting our time away.