HOME CHAT NAB PRAYERS FORUMS COMMUNITY RCIA MAGAZINE CATECHISM LINKS CONTACT
 CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC SAINTS INDEX  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC DICTIONARY  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Home
 
Bible
 
Catechism
 
Chat
 
Catholic Encyclopedia
 
Church Fathers
 
Classics Library
 
Church Documents
 
Discussion
 
Mysticism
 
Prayer
 
Prayer Requests
 
RCIA
 
Vocations
 
Ray of Hope
 
Saints
 
Social Doctrine
 
Links
 
Contact
 









Enchiridion On Faith, Hope and Love
by Saint Augustine


CHAPTER I

THE 0CCASION AND PURPOSE OF THIS "MANUAL"

1. I cannot say, my dearest son Laurence, how much your learning pleases

me, and how much I desire that you should be wise--though not one of those of

whom it is said: "Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputant of

this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?"1 Rather, you

should be one of those of whom it is written, "The multitude of the wise is the health

of the world"2; and also you should be the kind of man the apostle wishes those men

to be to whom he said,3 "I would have you be wise in goodness and simple in evil."4

2. Human wisdom consists in piety. This you have in the book of the saintly

Job, for there he writes that Wisdom herself said to man, "Behold, piety is

wisdom."5 If, then, you ask what kind of piety she was speaking of, you will find it

more distinctly designated by the Greek term qeosebeia, literally, "the service of

God." The Greek has still another word for "piety," ensebeia, which also signifies

"proper service." This too refers chiefly to the service of God. But no term is better

than qeosebeia, which clearly expresses the idea of the man's service of God as the

source of human wisdom.

When you ask me to be brief, you do not expect me to speak of great issues in

a few sentences, do you? Is not this rather what you desire: a brief summary or a

short treatise on the proper mode of worshipping [serving] God?

3. If I should answer, "God should be worshipped in faith, hope, love," you

would doubtless reply that this was shorter than you wished, and might then beg

for a brief explication of what each of these three means: What should be believed,

what should be hoped for, and what should be loved? If I should answer these

questions, you would then have everything you asked for in your letter. If you have

kept a copy of it, you can easily refer to it. If not, recall your questions as I discuss

them.

4. It is your desire, as you wrote, to have from me a book, a sort of

enchiridion,6 as it might be called--something to have "at hand"--that deals with

your questions. What is to be sought after above all else? What, in view of the divers

heresies, is to be avoided above all else? How far does reason support religion; or

what happens to reason when the issues involved concern faith alone; what is the

beginning and end of our endeavor? What is the most comprehensive of all

explanations? What is the certain and distinctive foundation of the catholic faith?

You would have the answers to all these questions if you really understood what a

man should believe, what he should hope for, and what he ought to love. For these

are the chief things--indeed, the only things--to seek for in religion. He who turns

away from them is either a complete stranger to the name of Christ or else he is a

heretic. Things that arise in sensory experience, or that are analyzed by the

intellect, may be demonstrated by the reason. But in matters that pass beyond the

scope of the physical senses, which we have not settled by our own understanding,

and cannot--here we must believe, without hesitation, the witness of those men by

1I Cor. 1:20.

2Wis. 6:26 (Vulgate).

3Rom. 16:19.

4A later interpolation, not found in the best MSS., adds, "As no one can exist from himself, so also no

one can be wise in himself save only as he is enlightened by Him of whom it is written, 'All wisdom is

from God' [Ecclus. 1:1]."

5Job 28:28.

6A transliteration of the Greek egceiridion, literally, a handbook or manual.


whom the Scriptures (rightly called divine) were composed, men who were divinely

aided in their senses and their minds to see and even to foresee the things about

which they testify.

5. But, as this faith, which works by love,7 begins to penetrate the soul, it

tends, through the vital power of goodness, to change into sight, so that the holy and

perfect in heart catch glimpses of that ineffable beauty whose full vision is our

highest happiness. Here, then, surely, is the answer to your question about the

beginning and the end of our endeavor. We begin in faith, we are perfected in sight.8

This likewise is the most comprehensive of all explanations. As for the certain and

distinctive foundation of the catholic faith, it is Christ. "For other foundation," said

the apostle, "can no man lay save that which has been laid, which is Christ Jesus."9

Nor should it be denied that this is the distinctive basis of the catholic faith, just

because it appears that it is common to us and to certain heretics as well. For if we

think carefully about the meaning of Christ, we shall see that among some of the

heretics who wish to be called Christians, the name of Christ is held in honor, but

the reality itself is not among them. To make all this plain would take too long--

because we would then have to review all the heresies that have been, the ones that

now exist, and those which could exist under the label "Christian," and we would

have to show that what we have said of all is true of each of them. Such a discussion

would take so many volumes as to make it seem endless.10

6. You have asked for an enchiridion, something you could carry around, not

just baggage for your bookshelf. Therefore we may return to these three ways in

which, as we said, God should be served: faith, hope, love. It is easy to say what one

ought to believe, what to hope for, and what to love. But to defend our doctrines

against the calumnies of those who think differently is a more difficult and detailed

task. If one is to have this wisdom, it is not enough just to put an enchiridion in the

hand. It is also necessary that a great zeal be kindled in the heart.









Copyright ©1999-2018 e-Catholic2000.com