Enchiridion On Faith, Hope and Love
by Saint Augustine
AND THE LORD'S PRAYER
AS GUIDES TO THE INTERPRETATION
OF FAITH, HOPE,
Let us begin, for example, with the Symbol11
and the Lord's Prayer. What
shorter to hear or to read? What is more easily memorized? Since
through sin the
race stood grievously burdened by great misery and in deep need of
preaching of the time of God's grace, said, "And it shall be
that all who
the Lord's name will be saved."12
Thus, we have the Lord's Prayer. Later, the
when he wished to commend this same grace, remembered this prophetic
and promptly added, "But how shall they invoke him in whom they
we have the Symbol. In these two we have the three
virtues working together: faith believes; hope and love pray. Yet
nothing else is possible; thus faith prays too. This, then, is the
meaning of the
"How shall they invoke him in whom they have not believed?"
Now, is it possible to hope for what we do not believe in? We can, of
in something that we do not hope for. Who among the faithful does not
I Cor. 13:10, 11.
very early in his ministry (397), Augustine had written De agone
Christiano, in which he
reviewed and refuted a full score of heresies threatening the
Apostles' Creed. Cf. Augustine's early essay On Faith and the
in the punishment of the impious? Yet he does not hope for it, and
that such a punishment is threatening him and draws back in horror
is more rightly said to fear than to hope. A poet, distinguishing
between these two
those who dread be allowed to hope,"14
another poet, and a better one, did not put it rightly:
if I could have hoped for [i.e., foreseen]
a grievous blow..." 15
some grammarians use this as an example of inaccurate language and
"He said 'to hope' when he should have said 'to fear.'"
faith may refer to evil things as well as to good, since we believe
the good and evil. Yet faith is good, not evil. Moreover, faith
refers to things
and present and future. For we believe that Christ died; this is a
believe that he sitteth at the Father's right hand; this is present.
he will come as our judge; this is future. Again, faith has to do
with our own
and with those of others. For everyone believes, both about himself
about things as well--that at some time he began to exist and that he
not existed forever. Thus, not only about men, but even about angels,
things that have a bearing on religion.
hope deals only with good things, and only with those which lie in
and which pertain to the man who cherishes the hope. Since this is
be distinguished from hope: they are different terms and likewise
Yet faith and hope have this in common: they refer to what is not
this unseen is believed in or hoped for. Thus in the Epistle to the
is used by the enlightened defenders of the catholic rule of faith,
faith is said
be "the conviction of things not seen."16
However, when a man maintains that
words nor witnesses nor even arguments, but only the evidence of
determine his faith, he still ought not to be called absurd or told,
seen; therefore you have not believed." For it does not follow
that unless a
is not seen it cannot be believed. Still it is better for us to use
the term "faith,"
we are taught in "the sacred eloquence,"17
to refer to things not seen. And as for
the apostle says: "Hope that is seen is not hope. For if a man
sees a thing, why
he hope for it? If, however, we hope for what we do not see, we then
wait for it
therefore, our good is believed to be future, this is the same
as hoping for it.
then, shall I say of love, without which faith can do nothing? There
no true hope without love. Indeed, as the apostle James says, "Even
they neither hope nor love. Instead, believing as we do that what we
and love is coming to pass, they tremble. Therefore, the apostle Paul
commends the faith that works by love and that cannot exist without
it is that love is not without hope, hope is not without love, and
love are without faith.
Pharsalia, II, 15.
Aeneid, IV, 419. The context of this quotation is Dido's
lament over Aeneas' prospective
of her. She is saying that if she could have foreseen such a
disaster, she would have
able to bear it. Augustine's criticism here is a literalistic
eloquia--a favorite phrase of Augustine's for the Bible.
8:24, 25 (Old Latin).