A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
St Augustine of Hippo (Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis, St Austin, Blessed Augustine, Doctor of Grace, Doctor Gratiae, Doctor of the Church) (354-430). Latin Church, Western Christianity Feast Day and Lutheran Commemoration of the death of the son of St Monica, a theologian who helped formulate the doctrine of original sin, a philosopher, man of powerful intellect, stirring orator who despised gossip, and Bishop in Hippo Regius, Numidia, Roman North Africa. His writings influenced the development of Western philosophy and Christianity and he is viewed as one of the most important Church Fathers of the Latin Church in the Patristic Period. From a family of North African Berbers in Numidia (modern-day Souk Ahras, Algeria) but heavily Romanised, he spoke only Latin. Educated from 11 in Madaurus (M’Daourouch), he concluded that the human person is naturally inclined to sin. At 17, he continued his Latin education in Carthage, living an hedonistic life, with an interest in philosophy but difficulty with Greek. He became a Manichaean, had a son, conducted a school of rhetoric and was provided by the visiting prefect of the City of Rome with the position of rhetoric professor in Milan at 30. Never a Manichaean initiate, his mother’s religiosity urged him towards Catholicism and the Roman emperor issued a decree of death for all Manichaean monks, declaring that Christianity was the only legitimate religion for the Roman Empire. St Ambrose of Milan adopted Augustine as his spiritual son after the death of his pagan father and in Milan his mother arranged for him a respectable marriage a young heiress but he uttered his famously insincere prayer: “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet” and was advised that one could not live a life together in the love of wisdom if married. Of St Ambrose of Milan, Augustine wrote in his 397-398 Confessions (Confessiones): “That man of God received me as a father would and welcomed my coming as a good bishop should,” Although Augustine described life in Milan as Christianae vitae otium (the leisure of Christian life), at 31 decided not to marry and converted to Catholicism after hearing a child’s voice say tolle, lege (take up and read) St Paul in Romans: “Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof.” St Ambrose baptised Augustine in Milan at 33, with his son Adeodatus during the Easter Vigil, and the following year they returned to Africa to spread the Christian message. Augustine’s mother died at Ostia as they prepared to embark and soon after his son died too. Augustine sold his patrimony, giving the money to the poor and converting his home into a monastic foundation and at 37 was ordained priest in Annaba (modern-day Algeria) and became a famous preacher who combatted Manichaeanism and founded the religious priesthood. He believed that the preachers’ ultimate goal is to ensure the salvation of their audience. He became full Bishop of Hippo in 396, led a monastic life in the episcopal residence, gave the church his property, combatted heresy and worked tirelessly to convince the people of Hippo to convert to Christianity. He remained Bishop until his death, writing over 60 books, including The City of God to console Christians on the fall of the Western Roman Empire when the Visigoths sacked Rome in 410. Other important works also included On Christian Doctrine and On the Trinity, for the part of the Church that adhered to the concept of the Trinity as defined by the Council of Nicaea and the Council of Constantinople. Shortly before his death in Annaba on 28 August 430, the Germanic Arian Vandals invaded Roman Africa and besieged Hippo, a miracle there being attributed to Augustine for healing of a sick man. Shortly after his death, the Vandals lifted the siege but returned and destroyed all but Augustine’s Cathedral and library. Venerated in all Christian denominations that venerate saints. Many Protestants, especially Calvinists and Lutherans, consider him one of the theological fathers of the Protestant Reformation due to his teachings on salvation and divine grace, Luther having been from 1505 to 1521 a member of the Order of the Augustinian Eremites. Major shrine San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro, Pavia, Italy. Feast Day 15 June Eastern Christianity, 4 November Assyrian Church of the East. Patron of the Augustinians, brewers, printers, theologians, sore eyes, the Philippines and a number of cities and dioceses. Image: ewtn.com.
Prayer You are great, O Lord, greatly to be praised. Great is Your power, and infinite is Your wisdom. You are worthy of our praise, though we are but a speck in Your creation. You made us for Yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in You. You awaken our hearts to delight in Your praise. Amen
Ezekiel The Prophet (יְחֶזְקֵאל, Ἰεζεκιὴλ) (c622-570 BCE). Armenian Apostolic Church Feast for Hebrew prophet of priestly Kohen lineage who is the protagonist of the Book of Ezekiel. With his wife, he lived childless with other exiles from Judah in Babylonian captivity on the banks of the Chebar River, in Tel Abib, Syria . Before the exile, he was active as a prophet in the Land of Israel and, in the Jewish tradition, the three pious men, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) asked him for advice on resisting Nebuchadnezzar’s command for idol worship, choosing death by fire after Ezekiel received God’s saving revelation: “Thou dost believe indeed that I will abandon them. That shall not happen; but do thou let them carry out their intention according to their pious dictates and tell them nothing.” Ezekiel is recognised as a prophet in Islamic tradition but not mentioned in the Qur’an by name, unless as the prophet Zul-Kifl. Ezekiel’s prophecies are considered to include the destruction of Jerusalem, the restoration of the Land of Israel and a vision of a Millennial (Third) Temple. Venerated in Judaism, Christian Protestantism, Roman Catholic, Armenian Apostolic, Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, Islam, Baháʼí Faith. Major shrine Dhul-Kifl (Ezekiel) Tomb, Al Kifl, Iraq. Commemorated 21 July Lutheranism, Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches Feast Day 23 July. Image: godlovesprofit.com.
The Dormition (Assumption) of the Theotokos (Our Most Holy Lady the Ever-Virgin Mary). Eastern Orthodox celebration on the Julian Calendar of the taking up, in the presence of the Apostles, of Mary, body and soul, to heaven at the end of her earthly life. The Apostles buried Mary at Gethsemane, where Jesus had also been buried but on the third day after the burial, when they were eating together, Mary appeared to them saying: “Rejoice”. When the Apostles went to the grave, her body was gone, leaving a sweet fragrance. Assumption conveys the idea of death as falling asleep, to be followed by eventual resurrection. If the glory even of the least of the saints is ineffable, the glory of the Most Blessed Mary is that of the most holy and she by herself is more like to her Son than all the saints together, since her grace and glory exceed those of all the rest. The Roman Catholic Feast and Orthodox and Anglican Dormition of the Mother of God was celebrated on 15 August on the Gregorian calendar. Image: moscsp.ru.