Quotes Suitable For Framing Saint Augustine


“Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.”

Saint Augustine, De Genesi ad Litteram Libri Duodecim

Amen!  I might say that what goes for science also applies to history.  The Faith is done no favors when someone attempts to defend the Church from a point of attack resting on history, and the would be Catholic champion is obviously bone ignorant of history.  Intentions are important for a defender of the Faith, but knowledge is essential if his efforts are not to come a cropper.

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  1. Request.

    Please suggest a book that combines Science and Faith. I believe our God makes one appreciate the mystery of Science when viewed through faith. They complement each other. It could also be said that the mystery of Faith is also found in Science.

    I ask sincerely. One item I recall hearing about long ago, was that the distance the Earth was from the Sun was absolutely perfect. That only a matter of fifty miles closer or further from the Sun would make life on Earth uninhabitable.

    This post has given me much to consider because I know myself. I know that I have faltered in trying to convey the truth to a learned non-beleiver.

    So in humility I ask for a good read fit for my lower education status.
    Thank you.

  2. Philip: I think we just got it in Saint Augustine. I have been told (hearsay) that the reason Galileo was put under house arrest is because he, (Galileo), tried to preach the Scripture as science, which is exactly what St. Augustine is here admonishing people against.
    Sometimes, I think it is better to say the rosary and let God put it on the heart of the unbeliever. God help my unbelief.

  3. Agree Old Adam
    JPII, in Redemptoris Missio said “By accepting Christ, you open yourselves to the definitive Word of God, to the One in whom God has made himself fully known and has shown us the path to himself.”
    We have to open ourselves to Him- whether we are scientists or historians or neither – we have to be open. “Lord I believe, help my unbelief”
    John Paul Ii in that same letter -“God offers mankind this newness of life. “Can one reject Christ and everything that he has brought about in the history of mankind? Of course one can. Man is free. He can say ‘no’ to God. He can say ‘no’ to Christ. But the fundamental question remains: Is it legitimate to do this? And what would make it legitimate?”

  4. Anzlyne wrote, “Man is free. He can say ‘no’ to God. He can say ‘no’ to Christ”
    He can if he chooses, but whether he will choose or no is in God’s hands, for God always has the last word. As St Augustine points out in his letter to Simplician, “For the effectiveness of God’s mercy cannot be in the power of man to frustrate, if he will have none of it. If God wills to have mercy on men, he can call them in a way that is suited to them, so that they will be moved to understand and to follow… God has mercy on no man in vain. He calls the man on whom he has mercy in the way he knows will suit him, so that he will not refuse the call… who would dare to affirm that God has no method of calling whereby even Esau might have applied his mind and yoked his will to the faith in which Jacob was justified…? Who would dare to affirm that the Omnipotent lacked a method of persuading even Esau to believe?”
    Thus, Scripture says, ““I will have mercy on whom I will, and I will be merciful to whom it shall please Me” (Exod. 33:19)
    St Thomas, too, is to the same effect, ““Since the love of God is the cause of the goodness of things, no one would be better than another if God did not will a greater good to one than to another.” [ST in Ia, q. 20, a. 3]

  5. “They saw Jesus raise the dead…and yet did not believe.” Their disbelief is based on their priorities: the temporal far above the eternal. Their chief desires are the rewards of the World, not the rewards of eternal life, which (the Christian knows) far exceed the fleeting joys of the World.

    Jesus foresaw their disbelief. See Luke 16: 27 – 31.

    “27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ “

  6. What’s the Latin phrase that roughly translates “An error by one does not negate the whole idea” or something like that?

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