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For the Third Sunday in Lent: Augustine of Hippo on “Light in the Lord”

March 25, 2019

One reading for the Third Sunday in Lent from the book Faith and Life: readings compiled from ancient writers is this selection from St. Augustine:

I. LIGHT IN THE LORD.

IF “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all,” and if we ought to have fellowship with Him, the darkness must be expelled from us, that light may be kindled in us; for darkness can have no fellowship with light; therefore see what follows, “But if we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie;” and you have the Apostle Paul saying, “What communion hath light with darkness?” Therefore let a man now say to himself, “What shall I do? how shall I become light? I live in sins and iniquities. A feeling of despair and gloom steals over me. There is no salvation except in fellowship with God. God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. But sins are darkness; iniquities are darkness. We are pressed down by iniquities, so that we cannot have fellowship with God; what hope then have we? what will become of us?” Let us listen, if haply He will comfort and uplift us, and give us hope, lest we faint by the way. For we are hastening to our Country; and if we despair of reaching it, we faint from our very despair. But He who wishes us to reach it, feeds us by the way, that He may preserve us in the Country. “But if we walk in the light, as He also is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.” Let us walk in the light, as He is in the light, that we may be able to have fellowship with Him. And what shall we do about our sins? Hear what follows; “And the Blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” It is great ease of mind that God has given us. The devil once held a bond of slavery against us, but it was obliterated by the Blood of Christ. If you have confessed your sins, truth is in you; for truth itself is light. Your life is not yet perfectly lustrous, for sins are there; but yet you now begin to be illuminated, for confession of sins is there.

–St. Augustine on First Epistle of St. John, Tr. i.

One thing for certain: 1 John 1:9 is one of the most hopeful passages in Scripture – an antidote for despair.

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For the Third Sunday in Lent: Augustine of Hippo on the danger of relapse

March 24, 2019

For the Third Sunday in Lent, here is another selection from Faith and Life: readings compiled from ancient writers that I have posted before:

II. THE DANGER OF RELAPSE.

“What, then,” it will be asked, “does the devil now tempt no one of the faithful, because he will be cast out of the hearts of the faithful?” Yes, indeed, he does not cease to tempt. But it is one thing to reign within, another to assail from without; for sometimes an enemy assails a city thoroughly fortified, but he does not take it. And if any darts shot by him reach us, the Apostle instructs us how they may be kept from hurting us; he mentions “the breastplate and shield of faith’.” And if the devil sometimes wounds us, there is One at hand who heals. For as it is said- to those who are fighting, “These things I write unto you, that ye sin not;” so those that are wounded hear what follows, “And if any one sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous; He is the propitiation for our sins.” For what do we pray for when we say, “Forgive us our trespasses,” except that our wounds may be healed? And what else do we beg when we say, “And lead us not into temptation,” but that he who is plotting against us, or contending externally to us, may not break in at any point, may not be able to overcome us by force or by fraud? But whatsoever engines he may direct against us,—when he does not occupy the place of our heart where faith dwells, he has been cast out. But “unless the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” Do not then presume on your own strength, if you do not wish to call the devil in again, after he has been cast out.

–St. Augustine on St. John’s Gospel

I definitely see here a warning against being overconfident in our own ability to withstand temptation.

Two blogs worth checking out: “Laudable Practice” and “Dover Beach”

March 23, 2019

I wanted to mention two blogs that you might find well worth checking out: Laudable Practice and Dover Beach.  These are quite different Anglican blogs; Laudable Practice describes itself as “Anglican – Laudian – Radical Orthodoxy” and Dover Beach has an emphasis on the Fathers of the Church – though both blogs have a more varied intellectual content than just those areas.  Both authors can give you a lot to think about – see what you think.

From the HillFaith blog: John Lennox on why he is a follower of Jesus

March 21, 2019

If you are familiar with Oxford mathematician and Christian apologist John Lennox, you will find this post by Mark Tapscott on the HillFaith blog to be really interesting.  I highly commend the post to you.  If you don’t have time to read it, here is a video of Prof. Lennox talking about how he found his Christian faith, from that post.

The Rev. Dick Lucas: “Take responsibility for yourself” (Jude 1:20-21)

March 19, 2019

Here is another in a series of audio messages by the Rev. Dick Lucas that was given at St. Helen’s Bishopsgate in London, on the Epistle of Jude and titled “Can the Churches Survive?”.  These are, as always, very much worth hearing, and here is the seventh one, on Jude 1:20-21.  It is titled “Take responsibility for yourself.”

For the Second Sunday in Lent: John Chrysostom on perseverance in prayer

March 17, 2019

As the Gospel reading for the Second Sunday in Lent is Matthew 15:21-28, I thought I would quote something from John Chrysostom, as he preached a sermon on this passage.  Here he talks about the perseverance of the Canaanite woman’s petitions to the Lord for her daughter:

Do you see how this woman too contributed not a little to the healing of her daughter? For to this purpose neither did Christ say, Let your little daughter be made whole, but, Great is your faith, be it unto you even as you will; to teach you that the words were not used at random, nor were they flattering words, but great was the power of her faith.

The certain test, however, and demonstration thereof, He left to the issue of events. Her daughter accordingly was straightway healed.

But mark thou, I pray you, how when the apostles had failed, and had not succeeded, this woman had success. So great a thing is assiduity in prayer. Yea, He had even rather be solicited by us, guilty as we are, for those who belong to us, than by others in our behalf. And yet they had more liberty to speak; but she exhibited much endurance.

Truly, endurance in prayer is important, and this woman is an example for us all.

Abp. Foley Beach: “A Christian Code of Ethics for Using Social Media”

March 14, 2019

If you are a user of social media – Facebook, Twitter, or any other form – you may find Archbishop Foley Beach’s essay A Christian Code of Ethics for Using Social Media to be helpful.  He goes into more detail in the essay about each of five questions:

  1. Is it the truth?
  2. Have I talked to the person before I talked about the person?
  3. Will it benefit all concerned?
  4. Do my words reflect well on Jesus Christ?
  5. Will I have to confess what I have written as a sin?

It is also available as a PDF here.  (Hat tip: Anglican Church League)

From the “Miserable Offenders” podcast: “What is Anglicanism Anyways?”

March 12, 2019

From the folks at North American Anglican, here is an episode of their Miserable Offenders podcast, titled What is Anglicanism Anyways? – definitely worth listening to.

Hat tip: We see through a mirror darkly

For the First Sunday in Lent: Augustine of Hippo on the Temptation of our Lord

March 10, 2019

From Faith and Life, here is a reading for the First Sunday in Lent, this one being from Augustine of Hippo:

Our Lord’s will has been to prefigure us, who are His body, in that Body of His in which He has already died and risen, and ascended into Heaven; that whither the Head has gone before, thither the members may trust to follow. Therefore He represented us in Himself, when He willed to be tempted by Satan. For in Christ you were tempted, since Christ had flesh for Himself from you, salvation from Himself for you; death for Himself from you, life from Himself for you; insults for Himself from you, honours from Himself for you; therefore temptation for Himself from you, victory from Himself for you. If in Him we have been tempted, in Him we overcome the devil. Do you observe that Christ was tempted, and not also that He conquered? Recognize yourself as tempted in Him, and recognize yourself as conquering in Him.

–St. Augustine, on Psalm lx.

Indeed, it is only by His Spirit that we can conquer temptation.

The Rev. Dr. Lee Gatiss: “Fight Valiantly! The Need to Contend”

March 9, 2019

For Lent, Church Society in the UK is producing a series of meditations by Dr. Lee Gatiss that is based on the Book of Philippians, and titled “Fight Valiantly! Contending for the Faith.”  Here is the first of these meditations on “The Need to Contend” and you can follow this on either YouTube or on their blog.