Biographies of Catholic Saints

Saints are men and women who live their life as followers of Christ in their ordinary life and a source of wisdom for those who would like to be faithful to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. May their examples inspired us to live the way of life Jesus has taught us

Archive for June, 2007

Dogmatic and Moral Exposition

Dogmatic and Moral Exposition

 The fifteen books De Trinitate, on which he worked for fifteen years, from 400 to 416, are the most elaborate and profound work of St. Augustine. The last books on the analogies which the mystery of the Trinity have with our soul are much discussed. The saintly author himself declares that they are only analogous and are far-fetched and very obscure.

 The Enchiridion, or handbook, on Faith, Hope, and Love, composed, in 421, at the request of a pious Roman, Laurentius, is an admirable synthesis of Augustine’s theology, reduced to the three theological virtues. Father Faure has given us a learned commentary of it, and Harnack a detailed analysis (Hist. of dogmas, III, 205, 221).

 

Several volumes of miscellaneous questions, among which “Ad Simplicianum” (397) has been especially noted.

 Numberless writings of his have a practical aim: two on “Lying” (374 and 420), five on “Continence,” “Marriage,” and “Holy Widowhood,” one on “Patience,” another on “Prayer for the Dead” (421).

 

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Scriptural Exegesis

Augustine in the “De Doctrinâ Christianâ” (begun in 397 and ended in 426) gives us a genuine treatise of exegesis, historically the first (for St. Jerome wrote rather as a controversialist). Several times he attempted a commentary on Genesis. The great work “De Genesi ad litteram” was composed from 401 to 415. The “Enarrationes in Psalmos” are a masterpiece of popular eloquence, with a swing and a warmth to them which are inimitable. On the New Testament: the “De Sermone Dei in Monte” (during his priestly ministry) is especially noteworthy; “De Consensu Evangelistarum” (Harmony of the Gospels — 400); Homilies on St. John (416), generally classed among the chief works of Augustine; the Exposition of the Epistle to the Galatians” (324), etc. The most remarkable of his Biblical works illustrate either a theory of exegesis (one generally approved) which delights in finding mystical or allegorical interpretations, or the style of preaching which is founded on that view. His strictly exegetical work is far from equalling in scientific value that of St. Jerome. His knowledge of the Biblical languages was insufficient: he read Greek with difficulty; as for Hebrew, all that we can gather from the studies of Schanz and Rottmanner is that he was familiar with Punic, a language allied to Hebrew. Moreover, the two grand qualities of his genius — ardent feeling and prodigious subtlety — carried him sway into interpretations that were violent or more ingenious than solid.

 

 

 

But the hermeneutics of Augustine merit great praise, especially for their insistence upon the stern law of extreme prudence in determining the meaning of Scripture: We must be on our guard against giving interpretations which are hazardous or opposed to science, and so exposing the word of God to the ridicule of unbelievers creation of the universe, and the gradual development of the world under the action of the natural forces which were placed in it. Certainly the instantaneous act of the Creator did not produce an organized universe as we see it now. But, in the beginning, God creatednebulous mass (the word is Augustine’s Nebulosa species apparet; “De Genesi ad litt.,” I, n. 27), and in this mass were the mysterious germs (rationes seminales) of the future beings which were to develop themselves, when favourable circumstances should permit. Is Augustine, therefore, an Evolutionist?

 

 

If we mean that he had a deeper and wider mental grasp than other thinkers had of the forces of nature and the plasticity of beings, it is an incontestable fact; and from this point of view Father Zahm (Bible, Science, and Faith, pp. 58-66, French tr.) properly felicitates him on having been the precursor of modern thought. But if we mean that he admitted in matter a power of differentiation and of gradual transformation, passing from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous, the most formal texts force us to recognize that Augustine proclaimed the fixity of species, and did not admit that “from one identical primitive principle or from one germ, different realities can issue.” This judgment of the Abbé Martin in his very searching study on this subject (S. Augustin, p. 314) must correct the conclusion of Father Zahm. “The elements of this corporeal world have also their well defined force, and their proper quality, from which depends what each one of them can or cannot do, and what reality ought or ought not to issue from each one of them. Hence it is that from a grain of wheat a bean cannot issue, nor wheat from a bean, nor a, man from a beast, nor a beast from a man” (De Genesi ad litt., IX, n. 32).

source: Catholic Encyclopedia

Controversies with Heretics

Against the Manichæans:

 “De Moribus Ecclesiæ Catholicæ et de Moribus Manichæorum” (at Rome, 368);

  • “De Duabus Animabus” (before 392);
  • “Acts of the Dispute with Fortunatus the Manichæan” (392);
  • “Acts of the Conference with Felix” (404);
  • “De Libero Arbitrio” — very important on the origin of evil;
  • various writings “Contra Adimantum”;
  • against the Epistle of Mani (the foundation);
  • against Faustus (about 400);
  • against Secundinus (405), etc.

Against the Donatists:

 

 “Psalmus contra partem Donati” (about 395), a purely rhythmic song for popular use (the oldest example of its kind);

  • “Contra epistolam Parmeniani” (400);
  • “De Baptismo contra Donatistas” (about 400), one of the most important pieces in this controversy;
  • “Contra litteras Parmeniani,”
  • “Contra Cresconium,”
  • a good number of letters, also, relating to this debate.

Against the Pelagians, in chronological order, we have:

 

 

  • 412, “De peccatorum meritis et remissione” (On merit and forgiveness);
  • same year, “De spiritu et litterâ” (On the spirit and the letter);
  • 415, “De Perfectione justitiæ hominis” — important for understanding Pelagian impeccability;
  • 417, “De Gestis Pelagii” — a history of the Council of Diospolis, whose acts it reproduces;
  • 418, “De Gratiâ Christi et de peccato originali”;
  • 419, “De nuptiis et concupiscentiâ” and other writings (420-428);
  • “Against Julian of Eclanum” — the last of this series, interrupted by the death of the saint.

Against the Semipelagians:

 

 “De correptione et gratiâ” (427);

  • “De prædestinatione Sanctorum” (428);
  • “De Done Perseverantiæ” (429).

Against Arianism:

 

 “Contra sermonem Arianorum” (418) and

  • “Collattio cum Maximino Arianorum episcopo” (the celebrated conference of Hippo in 428).

source: Catholic Encyclopedia

Philosophy

These writings, for the most part composed in the villa of Cassisiacum, from his conversion to his baptism (388-387), continue the autobiography of the saint by initiating us into the researches and Platonic hesitations of his mind. There is less freedom in them than in the Confessions. They are literary essays, writings whose simplicity is the acme of art and elegance. Nowhere is the style of Augustine so chastened, nowhere is his language so pure. Their dialogueform shows that they were inspired by Plate and Cicero. The chief ones are:

 

 

 

  • Contra Academicos (the most important of all);
  • De Beatâ Vitâ;
  • De Ordine;
  • the two books of Soliloquies, which must be distinguished from the “Soliloquies” and “Meditations” which are certainly not authentic;
  • De Immortalitate animæ;
  • De Magistro (a dialogue between Augustine and his son Adeodatus); and
  • six curious books (the sixth especially) on Music.

Autobiography and Correspondence

 

 

 

The Confessions are the history of his heart; the Retractations, of his mind; while the Letters show his activity in the Church.

 

Source: Catholic Encyclopedia

Letters of St. Augustine of Hippo

Letter 1 — (A.D. 386) From Augustine to Hermogenianus
Letter 2 — (A.D. 386) From Augustine to Zenobius
Letter 3 — (A.D. 387) From Augustine to Nebridius
Letter 4 — (A.D. 387) From Augustine to Nebridius
Letter 5 — (A.D. 388) From Nebridius to Augustine
Letter 6 — (A.D. 389) From Nebridius to Augustine
Letter 7 — (A.D. 389) From Augustine to Nebridius
Letter 8 — (A.D. 389) From Nebridius to Augustine
Letter 9 — (A.D. 389) From Augustine to Nebridius
Letter 10 — (A.D. 389) From Augustine to Nebridius
Letter 11 — (A.D. 389) From Augustine to Nebridius
Letter 13 — (A.D. 389) From Augustine to Nebridius
Letter 14 — (A.D. 389) From Augustine to Nebridius
Letter 15 — (A.D. 390) From Augustine to Romanianus
Letter 16 — (A.D. 390) From Maximus of Madaura to Augustine
Letter 17 — (A.D. 390) From Augustine to Maximus of Madaura
Letter 18 — (A.D. 390) From Augustine to Coelestinus
Letter 19 — (A.D. 390) From Augustine to Gaius
Letter 20 — (A.D. 390) From Augustine to Antoninus
Letter 21 — (A.D. 391) From Augustine to Valerius
Letter 22 — (A.D. 392) From Augustine to Aurelius
Letter 23 — (A.D. 392) From Augustine to Maximin
Letter 25 — (A.D. 394) From Paulinus and Therasia to Augustine
Letter 26 — (A.D. 395) From Augustine to Licentius
Letter 27 — (A.D. 395) From Augustine to Paulinus
Letter 28 — (A.D. 394 or 395) From Augustine to Jerome
Letter 29 — (A.D. 395) From Augustine to Alypius
Letter 30 — (A.D. 396) From Paulinus and Therasia to Augustine

SECOND DIVISION (396-410)
Letters written after Augustine became Bishop of Hippo, but before the conference with the Donatists and the rise of the Pelagian heresy in Africa

Letter 31 — (A.D. 396) From Augustine to Paulinus and Therasia
Letter 33 — (A.D. 396) From Augustine to Proculeianus
Letter 34 — (A.D. 396) From Augustine to Eusebius
Letter 35 — (A.D. 396) From Augustine to Eusebius
Letter 36 — (A.D. 396) From Augustine to Casulanus
Letter 37 — (A.D. 397) From Augustine to Simplicianus
Letter 38 — (A.D. 397) From Augustine to Profuturus
Letter 39 — (A.D. 397) From Jerome to Augustine
Letter 40 — (A.D. 397) From Augustine to Jerome
Letter 41 — (A.D. 397) From Alypius and Augustine to Aurelius
Letter 42 — (A.D. 397) From Augustine to Paulinus and Therasia
Letter 43 — (A.D. 397) From Augustine to Glorius, Eleusius, the two Felixes, Grammaticus, and others
Letter 44 — (A.D. 398) From Augustine to Eleusius, Glorius, and the two Felixes
Letter 46 — (A.D. 398) From Publicola to Augustine
Letter 47 — (A.D. 398) From Augustine to Publicola
Letter 48 — (A.D. 398) From Augustine to Eudoxius
Letter 50 — (A.D. 399) From Augustine to the colony of Suffectum
Letter 51 — (A.D. 399 or 400) From Augustine to Crispinus
Letter 53 — (A.D. 400) From Augustine, Fortunatus, and Alypius to Generosus
Letter 54 — (A.D. 400) From Augustine to Januarius
Letter 55 — (A.D. 400) From Augustine to Januarius
Letter 58 — (A.D. 401) From Augustine to Pammachius
Letter 59 — (A.D. 401) From Augustine to Victorinus
Letter 60 — (A.D. 401) From Augustine to Aurelius
Letter 61 — (A.D. 401) From Augustine to Theodorus
Letter 62 — (A.D. 401) From Augustine, Alypius, and Samsucius, to Severus
Letter 63 — (A.D. 401) From Augustine to Severus
Letter 64 — (A.D. 401) From Augustine to Quintianus
Letter 65 — (A.D. 402) From Augustine to Xantippus
Letter 66 — (A.D. 402) From Augustine to Crispinus
Letter 67 — (A.D. 402) From Augustine to Jerome
Letter 68 — (A.D. 402) From Jerome to Augustine
Letter 69 — (A.D. 402) From Alypius and Augustine to Castorius
Letter 71 — (A.D. 403) From Augustine to Jerome
Letter 72 — (A.D. 404) From Jerome to Augustine
Letter 73 — (A.D. 404) From Augustine to Jerome
Letter 74 — (A.D. 404) From Augustine to Praesidius
Letter 75 — (A.D. 404) From Jerome to Augustine
Letter 76 — (A.D. 402) From Augustine to the Donatists
Letter 77 — (A.D. 404) From Augustine to Felix and Hilarinus
Letter 78 — (A.D. 404) From Augustine to the Church of Hippo
Letter 79 — (A.D. 404) From Augustine to the successor of Fortunatus
Letter 81 — (A.D. 405) From Jerome to Augustine
Letter 82 — (A.D. 405) From Augustine to Jerome
Letter 83 — (A.D. 405) From Augustine to Alypius
Letter 84 — (A.D. 405) From Augustine to Novatus
Letter 85 — (A.D. 405) From Augustine to Paulus
Letter 86 — (A.D. 405) From Augustine to Caecilianus
Letter 87 — (A.D. 405) From Augustine to Emeritus
Letter 88 — (A.D. 406) From the clergy of Hippo to Januarius
Letter 89 — (A.D. 406) From Augustine to Festus
Letter 90 — (A.D. 408) From Nectarius to Augustine
Letter 91 — (A.D. 408) From Augustine to Nectarius
Letter 92 — (A.D. 408) From Augustine to Italica
Letter 93 — (A.D. 408) From Augustine to Vincentius
Letter 95 — (A.D. 408) From Augustine to Paulinus and Therasia
Letter 96 — (A.D. 408) From Augustine to Olympius
Letter 97 — (A.D. 408) From Augustine to Olympius
Letter 98 — (A.D. 408) From Augustine to Boniface
Letter 99 — (A.D. 408 or beginning of 409) From Augustine to Italica
Letter 100 — (A.D. 409) From Augustine to Donatus
Letter 101 — (A.D. 409) From Augustine to Memor
Letter 102 — (A.D. 409) From Augustine to Deogratias
Letter 103 — (A.D. 409) From Nectarius to Augustine
Letter 104 — (A.D. 409) From Augustine to Nectarius
Letter 111 — (November, A.D. 409) From Augustine to Victorianus
Letter 115 — (A.D. 410) From Augustine to Fortunatus
Letter 116 — (A.D. 410) From Augustine to Generosus
Letter 117 — (A.D. 410) From Dioscorus to Augustine
Letter 118 — (A.D. 410) From Augustine to Dioscorus
Letter 122 — (A.D. 410) From Augustine to the people of Hippo
Letter 123 — (A.D. 410) From Jerome to Augustine

THIRD DIVISION (411-430)
Letters written after the conference with the Donatists and the rise of the Pelagian heresy, i.e., during the last twenty years of Augustine’s life

Letter 124 — (A.D. 411) From Augustine to Albina, Pinianus, and Melania
Letter 125 — (A.D. 411) From Augustine to Alypius
Letter 126 — (A.D. 411) From Augustine to Albina
Letter 130 — (A.D. 412) From Augustine to Proba
Letter 131 — (A.D. 412) From Augustine to Proba
Letter 132 — (A.D. 412) From Augustine to Volusianus
Letter 133 — (A.D. 412) From Augustine to Marcellinus
Letter 135 — (A.D. 412) From Volusianus to Augustine
Letter 136 — (A.D. 412) From Marcellinus to Augustine
Letter 137 — (A.D. 412) From Augustine to Volusianus
Letter 138 — (A.D. 412) From Augustine to Marcellinus
Letter 139 — (A.D. 412) From Augustine to Marcellinus
Letter 143 — (A.D. 412) From Augustine to Marcellinus
Letter 144 — (A.D. 412) From Augustine to the people of Cirta
Letter 145 — (A.D. 412 or 413) From Augustine to Anastasius
Letter 146 — (A.D. 413) From Augustine to Pelagius
Letter 148 — (A.D. 413) From Augustine to Fortunatianus
Letter 150 — (A.D. 413) From Augustine to Proba and Juliana
Letter 151 — (A.D. 413 or 414) From Augustine to Caecilianus
Letter 158 — (A.D. 414) From Evodius to Augustine
Letter 159 — (A.D. 415) From Augustine to Evodius
Letter 163 — (A.D. 414) From Evodius to Augustine
Letter 164 — (A.D. 414) From Augustine to Evodius
Letter 165 — (A.D. 410) From Jerome to Marcellinus and Anapsychia
Letter 166 — (A.D. 415) From Augustine to Jerome, on the origin of the soul
Letter 167 — (A.D. 415) From Augustine to Jerome, on James 2:10
Letter 169 — (A.D. 415) From Augustine to Evodius
Letter 172 — (A.D. 416) From Jerome to Augustine
Letter 173 — (A.D. 416) From Augustine to Donatus
Letter 180 — (A.D. 416) From Augustine to Oceanus
Letter 185 — (A.D. 416) From Augustine to Boniface
Letter 188 — (A.D. 416) From Alypius and Augustine to Juliana
Letter 189 — (A.D. 418) From Augustine to Boniface
Letter 191 — (A.D. 418) From Augustine to Sixtus
Letter 192 — (A.D. 418) From Augustine to Caelestine
Letter 195 — (A.D. 418) From Jerome to Augustine
Letter 201 — (A.D. 419) From the Emperors Honorius and Theodosius to Augustine
Letter 202 — (A.D. 419) From Jerome to Alypius and Augustine
Letter 203 — (A.D. 420) From Augustine to Largus
Letter 208 — (A.D. 423) From Augustine to Felicia
Letter 209 — (A.D. 423) From Augustine to Caelestine
Letter 210 — (A.D. 423) From Augustine to Felicitas and Rusticus
Letter 211 — (A.D. 423) From Augustine to a monastery
Letter 212 — (A.D. 423) From Augustine to Quintilianus
Letter 213 — (September 26th, A.D. 426) Record of proceedings choosing St. Augustine’s successor
Letter 214 — (A.D. 426) From Augustine to Valentius
Letter 215 — (A.D. 426) From Augustine to Valentius
Letter 218 — (A.D. 426) From Augustine to Palatinus
Letter 219 — (A.D. 436) From Augustine, Florentius and Secundinus to Proculus and Cylinus
Letter 220 — (A.D. 427) From Augustine to Boniface
Letter 227 — (A.D. 428 or 429) From Augustine to Alypius
Letter 228 — (A.D. 428 or 429) From Augustine to Honoratus
Letter 229 — (A.D. 429) From Augustine to Darius
Letter 231 — (A.D. 429) From Augustine to Darius

FOURTH DIVISION
Because the date of composition of these letters is uncertain, they have been placed by the Benedictine editors in the fourth division, and in it they are arranged under two principal divisions: the first embracing some controversial letters, and the second a number of those which were occasioned either by Augustine’s interest in the welfare of individuals, or by the claims of official duty.

Letter 232 — From Augustine to the people of Madaura
Letter 245 — From Augustine to Possidius
Letter 246 — From Augustine to Lampadius
Letter 250 — From Augustine to Auxilius
Letter 254 — From Augustine to Benenatus
Letter 263 — From Augustine to Sapida
Letter 269 — From Augustine to Nobilius

APPENDIX
A letter contained in the collection of Jerome, according to which list it is numbered.

Jerome’s Letter 144 — From Augustine to Optatus

source: Catholic Encyclopedia

Works of St. Augustine of Hippo

humanity has ever known, and is admired not only for the number of his works, but also for the variety of subjects, which traverse the whole realm of thought. The form in which he casts his work exercises a very powerful attraction on the reader. Bardenhewer praises his extraordinary suppleness of expression and his marvellous gift of describing interior things, of painting the various states of the soul and the facts of the spiritual world. His latinity bears the stamp of his age. In general, his style is noble and chaste; but, says the same author, “in his sermons and other popular writings he purposely drops to the language of the people.” A detailed analysis is impossible here. We shall merely indicate his principal writings and the date (often approximate) of their composition.
Autobiography and Correspondence
Philosophy
General Apology
Controversies with Heretics
Scriptural Exegesis
Dogmatic and Moral Exposition
Pastorals and Preaching
Editions of St. Augustine’s works
source: Catholic Encyclopedia