August 28, 2008

Love and do what you will

Love and do what you will

Today, August 28th, the Roman Catholic calendar celebrates St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the four traditional Doctors of the Latin Church, and the man of whom theologian Johann Adam Möhler was not afraid to write that “for depth of feeling and power of conception nothing written on the Church since St. Paul's time, is comparable” to his works. Well, he is also—as Catholic Online recalls—the patron of brewers “because of his conversion from a former life of loose living, which included parties, entertainment, and worldly ambitions,” but this obviously enhances rather than diminishes the glory of God under many respects, though I would have preferred if he had been proclaimed the patron of vine-growers instead, but this is merely a non-disputatious question of tastes …

Augustine, si parva licet, is also one of my favorite thinkers of all times. And this, as I wrote a couple of posts ago, mainly because of his huge optimism about human nature. The very famous quote above, from Augustine’s Commentary on the First Epistle of John, bears witness to this. Yet, the statement must be appropriately contextualized, to avoid any misunderstanding. Therefore here is the quote itself in its own context :

See what we are insisting upon; that the deeds of men are only discerned by the root of charity. For many things may be done that have a good appearance, and yet proceed not from the root of charity. For thorns also have flowers: some actions truly seem rough, seem savage; howbeit they are done for discipline at the bidding of charity. Once for all, then, a short precept is given you: Love, and do what you will: whether you hold your peace, through love hold your peace; whether you cry out, through love cry out; whether you correct, through love correct; whether you spare, through love do you spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.
Homily 7 on the First Epistle of John


I would draw the reader’s attention particularly to the last sentence, “let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.” Thus we can begin to experience the freedom of the Gospel.



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1 comment:

  1. Optimistic about human nature. True. That is why I think that any lutheran claim is, to put it mildly, unconvincing

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