Saturday, November 15, 2014

QOTM...*: Augustine of Hippo

(*Quote of the Month)

People travel to wonder at the majestic
height of the mountain, the huge waves
of the sea, the long courses of the rivers,
the vast compass of the ocean, the
circular motion of the stars. Yet they
pass by themselves without wonder.

                                                                                                ~~St. Augustine

People who love nature are sometimes criticized for seeming to value the creation higher than they value persons, whom the Bible says are the crown of God’s creation. On the contrary, the nature lovers I have known have by and large also been lovers of people, and yet it can be true that some do exactly what Augustine says.

The truth? There is nothing more impressive or more remarkable in God’s order than man and woman, girl and boy.

Augustine of Hippo is a saint of the church who lived from 354-430 A.D. Having had a dramatic conversion to the Christian faith from profligacy (I told my Bible study group I’d find some way to use that word this week, so there you have it!), he became one of Christianity’s foremost foundational theologians and an important early philosopher of western culture. His books Confessions and City of God remain two of the most important books in the history of Christianity. And, in the category of odd, he finds himself in Catholic tradition the patron saint of printers, theologians, numerous cities, the alleviation of sore eyes (!), and, maybe having something to do with the eyes thing, of brewers! I don’t know if that includes the brewers from Milwaukee… I’ll leave that clarification to my Sconnie son-in-law and nephew.

Personally, as to the temptation to ‘pass by themselves without wonder,’ I just cannot do that. There are numberless ways in which I am both humbled and undone by my contemplation of the beauty of the human spirit, and by the preciousness of people, not only the familiar ones God has placed most closely into my life, but all the good people with whom I have served, and even the nameless legions I encounter on a busy weekend day in the park or in the rush of a downtown Chicago workday.

So then, just because I can (and because I’m on this subject), I share with you today the wonder of those closest to me, my family. They exemplify for me a counterpoint to Augustine’s words, and testify to the truth of Psalm 136:4 – “…(God) alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever.” They are, and always will be, a wonder to me.

~~RGM, November 14, 2014

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