St. Augustine: the Proper Role of Shepherds

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“Yet there are shepherds who want to have the title of shepherd without wanting to fulfill a pastor’s duties;”
—St. Augustine of Hippo, Sermon on Pastors from The Office of Readings, 16 September, 2018

St. Augustine, as usual, had something to say 1800 years ago that hits the nail on the head today.  As I read excerpts from his Sermon on Pastors, while doing the Office of Readings today, I thought why isn’t someone in high ecclesial place saying what he said?

I’ll give some pertinent quotes.   For those of you interested in the whole reading please go to the link in the quote.

“The word of the Lord came to me and said: Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel and speak to the shepherds of Israel. We just heard this reading a moment ago, my brothers, and I have decided to speak to you on this passage. The Lord will help me to speak the truth if I do not speak on my own authority. For if I speak on my own authority, I will be a shepherd nourishing myself and not the sheep. However, if my words are the Lord’s, then he is nourishing you no matter who speaks. Thus says the Lord God: Shepherds of Israel, who have been nourishing only themselves! Should not the shepherds nourish the sheep? In other words, true shepherds take care of their sheep, not themselves. This is the principal reason why God condemns those shepherds: they took care of themselves rather than their sheep. Who are they who nourish themselves? They are the shepherds the Apostle described when he said: They all seek what is theirs and not what is Christ’s.”
—loc. cit.

and what should be sent as a message to all Cardinals and Curial Officials:

“In addition to the fact that I am a Christian and must give God an account of my life, I as a leader must give him an account of my stewardship as well.”
—loc. cit.

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One Comment

  1. I thought ‘Why isn’t someone in high ecclesial place saying what he said.” For me, that is simple to answer. In many places, priests are highly discouraged from quoting popes and saints prior to V-2. And they are just about banned from quoting any council prior to V-2. And who is banning these priests from such actions? Those in high ecclesial place.

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