Inasmuch as love grows in you, in so much beauty grows; for love is itself the beauty of the soul.
Once for all, then, a short precept is given thee: Love, and do what thou wilt.

Augustine of Hippo (13 November 35428 August 430) was a Christian theologian, rhetor, North African bishop, Doctor of the Catholic Church, saint, and a philosopher influenced in his early years by Manichaeism and the Neo-Platonism of Plotinus.

Love the sinner and hate the sin.
See also: Confessions


An unjust law is no law at all.
The spiritual virtue of a sacrament is like light, — although it passes among the impure, it is not polluted.
Patience is the companion of wisdom.
  • Nowhere in the Gospel do we read that the Lord said: "I am sending you a Paraclete who will teach you about the course of the sun and moon." For He wanted to make Christians, not mathematicians.
    • De actis cum Felice Manicheo {AD 404), translated as A Debate with Felix the Manichean, ¶1709, in The Faith of the Early Fathers Vol 3 : St. Augustine to the End of the Patristic Age by W.A. Jurgens, p. 88
    • Variant translations:
    • One does not read in the Gospel that the Lord said: "I will send you the Paraclete who will teach you about the course of the sun and moon." For He willed to make them Christians, not mathematicians.
      • As quoted in Science Teaching : The Role of History and Philosophy of Science (1994) by Michael R. Matthews, p. 195
  • The superfluities of the rich are the necessaries of the poor. They who possess superfluities, possess the goods of others.
    • Patrologia Latina, vol. 37, p. 1922
  • Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum.
    • Love the sinner and hate the sin.
      • Opera Omnia, Vol II. Col. 962, letter 211
    • Alternate translation: With love for mankind and hatred of sins (vices).
  • An unjust law is no law at all.
    • On Free Choice Of The Will, Book 1, § 5
  • The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.
    • Tractates on the Gospel of John; tractate XII on John 3:6-21, § 13
  • Spiritalis enim virtus Sacramenti ita est ut lux: et ab illuminandis pura excipitur, et si per immundos transeat, non inquinatur.
    • For the spiritual power of a sacrament is like light in this way: it is both received pure by those to be enlightened, and if it passes through the impure it is not defiled.
      • Tractates on the Gospel of John; tractate V on John 1:33, §15; translation by R. Willems
        • Compare:
          • The sun, too, shines into cesspools and is not polluted.
          • A very weighty argument is this — namely, that neither does the light which descends from thence, chiefly upon the world, mix itself with anything, nor admit of dirtiness or pollution, but remains entirely, and in all things that are, free from defilement, admixture, and suffering.
          • The sun, which passeth through pollutions and itself remains as pure as before.
  • If any one will piously and soberly consider the sermon which our Lord Jesus spoke on the mount, as we read it in the Gospel according to Matthew, I think that he will find in it, so far as regards the highest morals, a perfect standard of the Christian life: and this we do not rashly venture to promise, but gather it from the very words of the Lord Himself. For the sermon itself is brought to a close in such a way, that it is clear there are in it all the precepts which go to mould the life. … He has sufficiently indicated, as I think, that these sayings which He uttered on the mount so perfectly guide the life of those who may be willing to live according to them, that they may justly be compared to one building upon a rock.
  • What, then, does He say? "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." We read in Scripture concerning the striving after temporal things, "All is vanity and presumption of spirit"; but presumption of spirit means audacity and pride: usually also the proud are said to have great spirits; and rightly, inasmuch as the wind also is called spirit. And hence it is written, "Fire, hail, snow, ice, spirit of tempest." But, indeed, who does not know that the proud are spoken of as puffed up, as if swelled out with wind? And hence also that expression of the apostle, "Knowledge puffs up, but charity edifies". And the poor in spirit are rightly understood here, as meaning the humble and God-fearing, i.e. those who have not the spirit which puffs up. Nor ought blessedness to begin at any other point whatever, if indeed it is to attain unto the highest wisdom; "but the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom"; for, on the other hand also, "pride" is entitled "the beginning of all sin." Let the proud, therefore, seek after and love the kingdoms of the earth; but "blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
  • Patientia comes est sapientiae

De Libero Arbitrio (388 - 395)

Will is to grace as the horse is to the rider.
  • If there is something more excellent than the truth, then that is God; if not, then truth itself is God.

Psalmus Contra Partem Donati - Psalm Against the Donatists (c. 393)

Variously titled, “Psalm Against the Party of the Donatists,” “Alphabetical Psalm Against the Donatists,” “One Book, a Psalm against the Party of the Donatists,” etc. Latin text in Migne Patrologia Latina (PL) 43:23-32 "St. Augustine began his victorious campaign against Donatism soon after he was ordained priest in 391. His popular psalm or "Abecedarium" against the Donatists was intended to make known to the people the arguments set forth by St. Optatus, with the same conciliatory end in view. It shows that the sect was founded by traditors, condemned by pope and council, separated from the whole world, a cause of division, violence, and bloodshed;* the true Church is the one Vine, whose branches are over all the earth." - Catholic Encyclopedia * Augustine frequently complained of the Donatist's violence against the Catholics (see e.g. letters 105, 185 209). Even so, he maintained a deep pastoral love and concern for them, and ever strove for their eventual return to "the Unity," one of his "favorite names for the Catholic Church." .
  • All those of you who rejoice in peace, now it is time to judge the truth....
    Undoubtedly in days gone by there were holy men as Scripture tells,
    For God stated that he left behind seven thousand men in safety,
    And there are many priests and kings who are righteous under the law,
    There you find so many of the prophets, and many of the people too.
    Tell me which of the righteous of that time claimed an altar for himself?
    That wicked nation perpetrated a very large number of crimes,
    They sacrificed to idols and may prophets were put to death,
    Yet not a single one of the righteous withdrew from unity.
    The righteous endured the unrighteous while waiting for the winnower:
    They all mingled in one temple but were not mingled in their hearts;
    They said such things against them yet they had a single altar.
    • Early Christian Latin Poets, 2000, Carolinne White, Routledge, London, ISBN 0415187826 ISBN 9780415187824 p. 55.

Confessions (c. 397)

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.
See also Confessions
  • Fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te.
    • You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.
    • I, 1
  • The weakness of little children's limbs is innocent, not their souls.
    • I, 7
  • I became evil for no reason. I had no motive for my wickedness except wickedness itself. It was foul, and I loved it. I loved the self-destruction, I loved my fall, not the object for which I had fallen but my fall itself. My depraved soul leaped down from your firmament to ruin. I was seeking not to gain anything by shameful means, but shame for its own sake.
    • II, 4
  • Nondum amabam, et amare amabam...quaerebam quid amarem, amans amare.
    • I was not yet in love, yet I loved to love...I sought what I might love, in love with loving.
    • III, 1
  • Et illa erant fercula, in quibus mihi esurienti te inferebatur sol et luna.
    • And these were the dishes wherein to me, hunger-starven for thee, they served up the sun and the moon.
    • III, 6
  • Already I had learned from thee that because a thing is eloquently expressed it should not be taken to be as necessarily true; nor because it is uttered with stammering lips should it be supposed false. Nor, again, is it necessarily true because rudely uttered, nor untrue because the language is brilliant. Wisdom and folly both are like meats that are wholesome and unwholesome, and courtly or simple words are like town-made or rustic vessels — both kinds of food may be served in either kind of dish.
    • V, 6
    • Variation on the middle sentence: A thing is not necessarily true because badly uttered, nor false because spoken magnificently.
    • Variation on the middle sentence: A thing is not necessarily false because it is badly expressed, nor true because it is expressed magnificently.
  • For it still seemed to me “that it is not we who sin, but some other nature sinned in us.” And it gratified my pride to be beyond blame, and when I did anything wrong not to have to confess that I had done wrong. … I loved to excuse my soul and to accuse something else inside me (I knew not what) but which was not I. But, assuredly, it was I, and it was my impiety that had divided me against myself. That sin then was all the more incurable because I did not deem myself a sinner.
    • A. Outler, trans. (Dover: 2002), Book 5, Chapter 10, p. 77
  • The Catholic faith, … I now realized could be maintained without presumption. This was especially true after I had heard one or two parts of the Old Testament explained allegorically—whereas before this, when I had interpreted them literally, they had “killed” me spiritually.
    • A. Outler, trans. (Dover: 2002), Book 5, Chapter 14, p. 81.
  • I read there [in "certain books of the Platonists"] that God the Word was born "not of flesh nor of blood, nor of the will of man, nor the will of the flesh, but of God." But, that "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us" — I found this nowhere there.
    • VII, 9
  • At ego adulescens miser ualde, miser in exordio ipsius adulescentiae, etiam petieram a te castitatem et dixeram, 'Da mihi castitatem et continentiam, sed noli modo.'
    • As a youth I prayed, "Give me chastity and continence, but not right now."
    • VIII, 7
  • Dicebam haec et flebam amarissima contritione cordis mei. Et ecce audio vocem de vicina domo cum cantu dicentis et crebro repetentis, quasi pueri an puellae, nescio: tolle lege, tolle lege. Statimque mutato vultu intentissimus cogitare coepi utrumnam solerent pueri in aliquo genere ludendi cantitare tale aliquid. Nec occurrebat omnino audisse me uspiam, repressoque impetu lacrimarum surrexi, nihil aliud interpretans divinitus mihi iuberi nisi ut aperirem codicem et legerem quod primum caput invenissem. Audieram enim de Antonio quod ex evangelica lectione cui forte supervenerat admonitus fuerit, tamquam sibi diceretur quod legebatur: "Vade, vende omnia quae habes, et da pauperibus et habebis thesaurum in caelis; et veni, sequere me," et tali oraculo confestim ad te esse conversum. Itaque concitus redii in eum locum ubi sedebat Alypius: ibi enim posueram codicem apostoli cum inde surrexeram. arripui, aperui, et legi in silentio capitulum quo primum coniecti sunt oculi mei: "Non in comessationibus et ebrietatibus, non in cubilibus et impudicitiis, non in contentione et aemulatione, sed induite dominum Iesum Christum et carnis providentiam ne feceritis in concupiscentiis." Nec ultra volui legere nec opus erat. Statim quippe cum fine huiusce sententiae quasi luce securitatis infusa cordi meo omnes dubitationis tenebrae diffugerunt.
    • I was saying these things and weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when suddenly I heard the voice of a boy or a girl I know not which — coming from the neighboring house, chanting over and over again, "Take up and read; take up and read." Immediately I ceased weeping and began most earnestly to think whether it was usual for children in some kind of game to sing such a song, but I could not remember ever having heard the like. So, damming the torrent of my tears, I got to my feet, for I could not but think that this was a divine command to open the Bible and read the first passage I should light upon. For I had heard how Anthony, accidentally coming into church while the gospel was being read, received the admonition as if what was read had been addressed to him: "Go and sell what you have and give it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me" (Matt. 19:21). By such an oracle he was forthwith converted to thee. So I quickly returned to the bench where Alypius was sitting, for there I had put down the apostle’s book when I had left there. I snatched it up, opened it, and in silence read the paragraph on which my eyes first fell: "Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof" (Rom. 13:13). I wanted to read no further, nor did I need to. For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away.
    • VIII, 12
  • But the inner part is the better part; for to it, as both ruler and judge, all these messengers of the senses report the answers of heaven and earth and all the things therein, who said, "We are not God, but he made us." My inner man knew these things through the ministry of the outer man, and I, the inner man, knew all this — I, the soul, through the senses of my body. I asked the whole frame of earth about my God, and it answered, "I am not he, but he made me."
    • X, 6
  • Sero te amavi, pulchritudo tam antiqua et tam nova, sero te amavi! et ecce intus eras et ego foris, et ibi te quaerebam.
    • Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient and ever new! Late have I loved you! And, behold, you were within me, and I out of myself, and there I searched for you.
      • X, 27, as translated in Theology and Discovery: Essays in honor of Karl Rahner, S.J. (1980) edited by William J. Kelly
    • Variant translations:
      • So late I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient and ever new! So late I loved you!
        • The Ethics of Modernism: Moral Ideas in Yeats, Eliot, Joyce, Woolf, and Beckett‎ (2007), by Lee Oser, p. 29
      • Too late I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient and ever new! Too late I loved you! And, behold, you were within me, and I out of myself, and there I searched for you.
        • Introduction to a Philosophy of Religion (1970) by Alice Von Hildebrand
  • Da quod iubes, et iube quod vis. Imperas nobis … continentiam.
    • Give what you command, and command what you will. You impose continency on us.
    • X, 29
  • Mihi quaestio factus sum.
    • I have become a question to myself.
    • X, 33
  • People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering.
    • Variant: Men go abroad to admire the heights of mountains, the mighty billows of the sea, the broad tides of rivers, the compass of the ocean, and the circuits of the stars, and pass themselves by.
    • X
  • There is another form of temptation, more complex in its peril. … It originates in an appetite for knowledge. … From this malady of curiosity are all those strange sights exhibited in the theatre. Hence do we proceed to search out the secret powers of nature (which is beside our end), which to know profits not, and wherein men desire nothing but to know.
  • Ecce respondeo dicenti, 'quid faciebat deus antequam faceret caelum et terram?' respondeo non illud quod quidam respondisse perhibetur, ioculariter eludens quaestionis violentiam: 'alta,' inquit, 'scrutantibus gehennas parabat.' aliud est videre, aliud ridere: haec non respondeo. libentius enim responderim, 'nescio quod nescio' quam illud unde inridetur qui alta interrogavit et laudatur qui falsa respondit.
    • How, then, shall I respond to him who asks, “What was God doing before he made heaven and earth?” I do not answer, as a certain one is reported to have done facetiously (shrugging off the force of the question). “He was preparing hell,” he said, “for those who pry too deep.” It is one thing to see the answer; it is another to laugh at the questioner--and for myself I do not answer these things thus. More willingly would I have answered, “I do not know what I do not know,” than cause one who asked a deep question to be ridiculed--and by such tactics gain praise for a worthless answer.
    • Book XI, Chapter XII; translation by E.B. Pusey
  • Quid est ergo tempus? Si nemo ex me quaerat, scio; si quaerenti explicare velim, nescio.
    • What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know.
    • XI, 14
  • You called and cried out loud and shattered my deafness. You were radiant and resplendent, you put to flight my blindness. You were fragrant, and I drew in my breath and now pant after you. I tasted you, and I feel but hunger and thirst for you. You touched me, and I am set on fire to attain the peace which is yours.
  • Deus, dona hominibus videre in parvo communes notitias rerum parvarum atque magnarum.
    • Translation: God, grant us men to see in a small thing principles which are common things both small and great.
    • XI, 23

The City of God (early 400s)

De Civitate Dei full text online at Wikisource as translated by Rev. George Wilson and Rev. J. J. Smith
Quotations are from Wilson and Smith translation unless otherwise specified.
The good man, though a slave, is free; the wicked, though he reigns, is a slave.
  • To the divine providence it has seemed good to prepare in the world to come for the righteous good things, which the unrighteous shall not enjoy; and for the wicked evil things, by which the good shall not be tormented. But as for the good things of this life, and its ills, God has willed that these should be common to both; that we might not too eagerly covet the things which wicked men are seen equally to enjoy, nor shrink with an unseemly fear from the ills which even good men often suffer.
    There is, too, a very great difference in the purpose served both by those events which we call adverse and those called prosperous. For the good man is neither uplifted with the good things of time, nor broken by its ills; but the wicked man, because he is corrupted by this world’s happiness, feels himself punished by its unhappiness.
  • Wherefore, though good and bad men suffer alike, we must not suppose that there is no difference between the men themselves, because there is no difference in what they both suffer. For even in the likeness of the sufferings, there remains an unlikeness in the sufferers; and though exposed to the same anguish, virtue and vice are not the same thing. For as the same fire causes gold to glow brightly, and chaff to smoke; and under the same flail the straw is beaten small, while the grain is cleansed; and as the lees are not mixed with the oil, though squeezed out of the vat by the same pressure, so the same violence of affliction proves, purges, clarifies the good, but damns, ruins, exterminates the wicked. And thus it is that in the same affliction the wicked detest God and blaspheme, while the good pray and praise. So material a difference does it make, not what ills are suffered, but what kind of man suffers them. For, stirred up with the same movement, mud exhales a horrible stench, and ointment emits a fragrant odor.
    • Variant translations:
    • Virtue and vice are not the same, even if they undergo the same torment.
    • The violence which assails good men to test them, to cleanse and purify them, effects in the wicked their condemnation, ruin, and annihilation.
  • Thus, in this universal catastrophe, the sufferings of Christians have tended to their moral improvement, because they viewed them with eyes of faith.
    • I, 9
  • Ipsa libido dominandi, quae inter alia uitia generis humani meracior inerat uniuerso populo Romano, postea quam in paucis potentioribus uicit, obtritos fatigatosque ceteros etiam iugo seruitutis oppressit.

    Nam quando illa quiesceret in superbissimis mentibus, donec continuatis honoribus ad potestatem regiam perueniret? Honorum porro continuandorum facultas non esset, nisi ambitio praeualeret. Minime autem praeualeret ambitio, nisi in populo auaritia luxuriaque corrupto.

    • The lust for power, which of all human vices was found in its most concentrated form in the Roman people as a whole, first established its victory in a few powerful individuals, and then crushed the rest of an exhausted country beneath the yoke of slavery.

      For when can that lust for power in arrogant hearts come to rest until, after passing from one office to another, it arrives at sovereignty? Now there would be no occasion for this continuous progress if ambition were not all-powerful; and the essential context for ambition is a people corrupted by greed and sensuality.

      • as translated by H. Bettenson (1972), Book 1, Chapter 31, p. 42
  • The Heavenly City outshines Rome, beyond comparison. There, instead of victory, is truth; instead of high rank, holiness; instead of peace, felicity; instead of life, eternity.
    • Book II, Chapter 29
  • The dominion of bad men is hurtful chiefly to themselves who rule, for they destroy their own souls by greater license in wickedness; while those who are put under them in service are not hurt except by their own iniquity. For to the just all the evils imposed on them by unjust rulers are not the punishment of crime, but the test of virtue. Therefore the good man, although he is a slave, is free; but the bad man, even if he reigns, is a slave, and that not of one man, but, what is far more grievous, of as many masters as he has vices; of which vices when the divine Scripture treats, it says, “For of whom any man is overcome, to the same he is also the bond-slave.”
    • IV, 3
    • Variant translation: The good man, though a slave, is free; the wicked, though he reigns, is a slave, and not the slave of a single man, but — what is worse — the slave of as many masters as he has vices.
  • Remota itaque iustitia quid sunt regna nisi magna latrocinia? quia et latrocinia quid sunt nisi parua regna? Manus et ipsa hominum est, imperio principis regitur, pacto societatis astringitur, placiti lege praeda diuiditur. Hoc malum si in tantum perditorum hominum accessibus crescit, ut et loca teneat sedes constituat, ciuitates occupet populos subiuget, euidentius regni nomen adsumit, quod ei iam in manifesto confert non dempta cupiditas, sed addita inpunitas. Eleganter enim et ueraciter Alexandro illi Magno quidam comprehensus pirata respondit. Nam cum idem rex hominem interrogaret, quid ei uideretur, ut mare haberet infestum, ille libera contumacia: Quod tibi, inquit, ut orbem terrarum; sed quia <id> ego exiguo nauigio facio, latro uocor; quia tu magna classe, imperator.
    • Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, “What thou meanest by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, whilst thou who dost it with a great fleet art styled emperor.”
  • For if they imagine infinite spaces of time before the world, during which God could not have been idle, in like manner they may conceive outside the world infinite realms of space, in which, if any one says that the Omnipotent cannot hold His hand from working, will it not follow that they must adopt Epicurus’ dream of innumerable worlds? with this difference only, that he asserts that they are formed and destroyed by the fortuitous movements of atoms, while they will hold that they are made by God’s hand, if they maintain that, throughout the boundless immensity of space, stretching interminably in every direction round the world, God cannot rest, and that the worlds which they suppose Him to make cannot be destroyed. ...neither does it follow that we should suppose that God was guided by chance when He created the world in that and no earlier time, although previous times had been running by during an infinite past, and though there was no difference by which one time could be chosen in preference to another. But if they say that the thoughts of men are idle when they conceive infinite places, since there is no place beside the world, we reply that, by the same showing, it is vain to conceive of the past times of God’s rest, since there is no time before the world.
  • For when God said, “Let there be light, and there was light,” if we are justified in understanding in this light the creation of the angels, then certainly they were created partakers of the eternal light which is the unchangeable Wisdom of God, by which all things were made, and whom we call the only-begotten Son of God; so that they, being illumined by the Light that created them, might themselves become light and be called “Day,” in participation of that unchangeable Light and Day which is the Word of God, by whom both themselves and all else were made. “The true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” — this Light lighteth also every pure angel, that he may be light not in himself, but in God; from whom if an angel turn away, he becomes impure, as are all those who are called unclean spirits, and are no longer light in the Lord, but darkness in themselves, being deprived of the participation of Light eternal. For evil has no positive nature; but the loss of good has received the name “evil.”
  • We both are, and know that we are, and delight in our being, and our knowledge of it. Moreover, in these three things no true-seeming illusion disturbs us; for we do not come into contact with these by some bodily sense, as we perceive the things outside of us of all which sensible objects it is the images resembling them, but not themselves which we perceive in the mind and hold in the memory, and which excite us to desire the objects. But, without any delusive representation of images or phantasms, I am most certain that I am, and that I know and delight in this. In respect of these truths, I am not at all afraid of the arguments of the Academicians, who say, What if you are deceived? For if I am deceived, I am. For he who is not, cannot be deceived; and if I am deceived, by this same token I am. And since I am if I am deceived, how am I deceived in believing that I am? for it is certain that I am if I am deceived. Since, therefore, I, the person deceived, should be, even if I were deceived, certainly I am not deceived in this knowledge that I am. And, consequently, neither am I deceived in knowing that I know. For, as I know that I am, so I know this also, that I know. And when I love these two things, I add to them a certain third thing, namely, my love, which is of equal moment. For neither am I deceived in this, that I love, since in those things which I love I am not deceived; though even if these were false, it would still be true that I loved false things. For how could I justly be blamed and prohibited from loving false things, if it were false that I loved them? But, since they are true and real, who doubts that when they are loved, the love of them is itself true and real? Further, as there is no one who does not wish to be happy, so there is no one who does not wish [themself] to be [into being]. For how can he be happy, if he is nothing?
    • XI, 26, Parts of this passage has been heavily compared with later statements of René Descartes; in Latin and with a variant translations:
Quid, si falleris? Si enim fallor, sum. Nam qui non est, utique nec falli potest; ac per hoc sum, si fallor. Quia ergo sum si fallor, quo modo esse me fallor, quando certum est me esse, si fallor.
What difference, if you are mistaken? For if I am mistaken, I am. For he who is not, assuredly cannot be mistaken; and therefore I am, if I am mistaken. Therefore because I am if I am mistaken, how am I mistaken that I am, when it is sure that I am, if I am mistaken.'
The Latin variations of the statement sum si fallor (I am because I err), have sometimes become paraphrased Fallor, ergo sum (I err, therefore I am), based on the form of the later Cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am) of Principles of Philosophy (1644) by Descartes. Familiarity with Augustine's thought could have actually inspired some of Descartes statements here and in the earlier Meditations on First Philosophy (1641): "Doubt is the origin of wisdom.".
  • Beauty is indeed a good gift of God; but that the good may not think it a great good, God dispenses it even to the wicked.
  • The philosophers who wished us to have the gods for our friends rank the friendship of the holy angels in the fourth circle of society, advancing now from the three circles of society on earth to the universe, and embracing heaven itself. And in this friendship we have indeed no fear that the angels will grieve us by their death or deterioration. But as we cannot mingle with them as familiarly as with men (which itself is one of the grievances of this life), and as Satan, as we read, sometimes transforms himself into an angel of light, to tempt those whom it is necessary to discipline, or just to deceive, there is great need of God’s mercy to preserve us from making friends of demons in disguise, while we fancy we have good angels for our friends; for the astuteness and deceitfulness of these wicked spirits is equalled by their hurtfulness.

De Unitate Ecclesiae - On the Unity of the Church (c. 401 – 405)

Ad Catholicos Epistula contra Donatistas (Letter to the Catholics against the Donatists), or De Unitate Ecclesiae (On the Unity of the Church),
Ad Catholicos epistola contra Donatistas vulgo De Unitate Ecclesiae liber unus. Latin text in Migne, Patrologia Latina (PL), 43:391–446. Variant: Epistula ad Catholicos de secta Donatistarum.
  • Quaerite, Donatistae, si nescitis, quaerite ab Ierusalem per terrena itinera in circuitu usque in Illyricum quot mansiones sint: si tot Ecclesias computemus, dicite quemadmodum per Africanas contentiones perire potuerunt. Ad Corinthios, ad Ephesios, ad Philippenses, ad Thessalonicenses, ad Colossenses vos solas Apostoli epistulas in lectione, nos autem et epistulas in lectione ac fide et ipsas Ecclesias in communione retinemus. PL 43, 414
  • The Head and the body are Christ wholly and entirely. The Head is the only begotten Son of God, the body is His Church; the bridegroom and the bride, two in one flesh. All who dissent from the Scriptures concerning Christ, although they may be found in all places in which the Church is found, are not in the Church; and again all those who agree with the Scriptures concerning the Head, and do not communicate in the unity of the Church, are not in the Church
    • Encyclical letter of Pope Leo XIII on the Unity of the Church, June 29, 1896, ch. 16, Publications of the Catholic Truth Society, 1896, London, Volume 30, p. 41.
      • Alternate translation: The whole Christ is Head and Body. The Head, the only begotten Son of God; and His Body, the Church: the Bridegroom and the Bride, two in one flesh. Whosoever dissent from the Holy Scriptures in respect of the Head, even though they be found in all the places in which the Church is marked out to be, are not in the Church. And again, whosoever agree with the Holy Scriptures concerning the Head, and do not communicate with the unity of the Body, are not in the Church, because they dissent from Christ's own witness concerning Christ's Body, which is the Church.
      • Dr. Pusey, and the Ancient Church (1866), by Thomas W. Allies, Longmans, Green, London, p. 82
  • We may not assent to the teaching even of the Catholic bishops, if at any time they are deceived into opinions contrary to the canonical Scriptures of God; but if they should so fall into error, and yet maintain the bond of unity and charity, let the apostle's saying avail in their case: 'And if in anything ye are otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.' Now these divine words have so manifest an application to the whole Church, that none but heretics in their stubborn perverseness and blind fury can bark against them. (Cf. Augustine's Reply to Faustus the Manichaean (Contra Faustum), book 11, 5 )
    • The Unity of the Church (1842), Henry Edward Manning, John Murray (pub.), London, p. 52. Comment: “As for contemporary figures, Augustine urged the Donatist faithful not to heed their bishops who were perpetuating the schism. ‘Neither should the Catholic bishops be followed when they are wrong and hold an opinion contrary to the canonical Scriptures of God.’ As Congar explains, each bishop is united to the faith of his Church which in turn is dependent on Scripture. In saying this, Augustine apparently did not take seriously the possibility of some quasi-universal opposition to Scripture among Catholic bishops, but rather envisaged a possible local or regional disruption. Augustinian Studies, 1980, vols. 11-12, Augustinian Institute, Villanova, Pa., Villanova University Press, p. 138.

Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John (414)

See also: First Epistle of John
  • The light will not shame you, if it shows you your own ugliness, and that ugliness so offends you that you perceive the beauty of the light.
    • First Homily, as translated by John Burnaby (1955), p. 262
  • What is love's perfection? To love our enemies, and to love them to the end that they may be our brothers.
    • First Homily, as translated by John Burnaby (1955), p. 266
  • In a quarrel for earth, turn not to earth.
    • First Homily, as translated by John Burnaby (1955), p. 267
  • Shut out the evil love of the world, that you may be filled with the love of God. You are a vessel that was already full: you must pour away what you have, that you may take in what you have not.
    • Second Homily, as translated by John Burnaby (1955), p. 274
  • A man might say, "The things that are in the world are what God has made. ... Why should I not love what God has made?" ...

    Suppose, my brethren, a man should make for his betrothed a ring, and she should prefer the ring given her to the betrothed who made it for her, would not her heart be convicted of infidelity? ... God has given you all these things: therefore, love him who made them.

    • Second Homily, as translated by John Burnaby (1955), pp. 275-276
  • Let each look to his own heart: let him not keep hatred against his brother for any hard word; on account of earthly contention let him not become earth.
    • First Homily, Paragraph 11, as translated by H. Browne, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 7 (1888)
  • Quantum in te crescit amor, tantum crescit pulchritudo; quia ipsa caritas est animae pulchritudo.
    • Beauty grows in you to the extent that love grows, because charity itself is the soul's beauty.
      • Ninth Homily, Paragraph 9, as translated by Boniface Ramsey (2008) Augustinian Heritage Institute
  • Variant translation:
    • Inasmuch as love grows in you, in so much beauty grows; for love is itself the beauty of the soul.
      • as translated by H. Browne and J. H. Meyers, The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers (1995)

On the Trinity (417)

De trinitate full Latin text at Wikisource
  • The inclination to seek the truth is safer than the presumption which regards unknown things as known.
    • (Cambridge: 2002), Book 9, Chapter 1, p. 24
  • When I, who conduct this inquiry, love something, then three things are found: I, what I love, and the love itself. … There are, therefore three things: the lover, the beloved and the love.
    • (Cambridge: 2002), Book 9, Chapter 2, Section 2, p. 26
  • The mind itself, its love [of itself] and its knowledge [of itself] are a kind of trinity.
    • (Cambridge: 2002), Book 9, Chapter 4, Section 4, p. 27

Notation — de Trinitate 200-258 c.e. "God sometimes had prophets use symbolic language that was fitted to the [Israelite's] state of belief and that reflects God not as God actually is, but as the people were able to understand. God, therefore, is not mediocre, but the people's understanding is mediocre; God is not limited, but the intellectual capacity of the people's mind is limited."

De Baptismo

  • Salus extra ecclesiam non est or Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus
    • There is no salvation outside the church.
    • On Baptism, Against the Donatists, book IV, ch. 17. Citing the famous teaching of St. Cyprian. In letter 185:50 (on the Donatist controversy), Augustine speaks of those who have knowingly separated from the unity of the Church: "Furthermore, the Catholic Church alone is the body of Christ, of which He is the Head and Saviour of His body. Outside this body the Holy Spirit giveth life to no one, seeing that, as the apostle says himself, 'The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us;' but he is not a partaker of the divine love who is the enemy of unity. Therefore they have not the Holy Ghost who are outside the Church; for it is written of them, 'They separate themselves, being sensual, having not the Spirit.'" . Augustine does, however, allow certain exceptions, as for example, in cases of invincible ignorance. Eugène Portalié, S.J. writes: "God’s immediate influence on souls, however, is not hindered by this ordinarily indispensable role of the Church. That is an accusation of Protestants which Augustine had foreseen. (I) In the Church, God acts ceaselessly in souls through His graces as the interior teacher and inspirer of all good. (2) Outside of the Church, God’s hands are not tied: He can work marvels of grace without human intervention in souls who do not yet know the Church, as the case of the centurion Cornelius witnesses, who had received the Holy Spirit before being baptized. God acts thus to show more clearly that it is always He and not the minister who sanctifies: “Why does it happen now this way, now that way, unless to prevent us from attributing anything to our human pride but to divine grace and power?” The conclusion is that God sometimes sanctifies without the Church and the sacraments, but never one who scorns the sacraments: “Therefore we conclude that an invisible sanctification has been offered to some and used to advantage without visible sacraments.... Not on that account, however, is the visible sacrament to be scorned, for one who scorns it can in no way be sanctified invisibly.” God, History, and Dialectic: The Theological Foundations of the Two Europes (1997) by Joseph P. Farrell, Seven Councils Press, ISBN 0966086007 ISBN 9780966086003 p. 1013, also in A Guide to the Thought of St. Augustine (1960) by H. Regnery, pp. 232-233

De Genesi ad Litteram

  • Quapropter bono christiano, sive mathematici, sive quilibet impie divinantium, maxime dicentes vera, cavendi sunt, ne consortio daemoniorum animam deceptam, pacto quodam societatis irretiant.
    • II, xvii, 37
    • Translation published in Mathematics in Western Culture (1953): The good Christian should beware the mathematician and all those who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of hell.
    • Modern translation by J.H. Taylor in Ancient Christian Writers (1982): Hence, a devout Christian must avoid astrologers and all impious soothsayers, especially when they tell the truth, for fear of leading his soul into error by consorting with demons and entangling himself with the bonds of such association.
    • Note: The well known, but incorrect English translation was published on page 3 of Morris Kline's Mathematics in Western Culture (1953). This book is a favorite with math students and is still in print. The Latin word mathematici derives from the Greek meaning of "something learned" and refers mainly to astrologers. This was the chief branch of mathematics at the time but has been replaced in modern times by a plethora of other branches. According to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd edition, the word "mathematician" still meant astrologer as late as 1710.
  • In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision, we find in Holy Scripture passages which can be interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such cases, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search for truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it."
    • I, xviii, 37. Modern translation by J.H. Taylor
  • To such a one my answer is that I have arrived at a nourishing kernel in that I have learnt that a man is not in any difficulty in making a reply according to his faith which he ought to make to those who try to defame our Holy Scripture. When they are able, from reliable evidence, to prove some fact of physical science, we shall show that it is not contrary to our Scripture. But when they produce from any of their books a theory contrary to Scripture, and therefore contrary to the Catholic faith, either we shall have some ability to demonstrate that it is absolutely false, or at least we ourselves will hold it so without any shadow of a doubt. And we will so cling to our Mediator, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” that we will not be led astray by the glib talk of false philosophy or frightened by the superstition of false religion. When we read the inspired books in the light of this wide variety of true doctrines which are drawn from a few words and founded on the firm basis of Catholic belief, let us choose that one which appears as certainly the meaning intended by the author. But if this is not clear, then at least we should choose an interpretation in keeping with the context of Scripture and in harmony with our faith. But if the meaning cannot be studied and judged by the context of Scripture, at least we should choose only that which our faith demands. For it is one thing to fail to recognize the primary meaning of the writer, and another to depart from the norms of religious belief. If both these difficulties are avoided, the reader gets full profit from his reading."
    • I, xxi, 41. Modern translation by J.H. Taylor
  • Plerumque enim accidit ut aliquid de terra, de coelo, de caeteris mundi huius elementis, de motu et conversione vel etiam magnitudine et intervallis siderum, de certis defectibus solis ac lunae, de circuitibus annorum et temporum, de naturis animalium, fruticum, lapidum, atque huiusmodi caeteris, etiam non christianus ita noverit, ut certissima ratione vel experientia teneat. Turpe est autem nimis et perniciosum ac maxime cavendum, ut christianum de his rebus quasi secundum christianas Litteras loquentem, ita delirare audiat, ut, quemadmodum dicitur, toto coelo errare conspiciens, risum tenere vix possit. Et non tam molestum est, quod errans homo deridetur, sed quod auctores nostri ab eis qui foris sunt, talia sensisse creduntur, et cum magno eorum exitio de quorum salute satagimus, tamquam indocti reprehenduntur atque respuuntur. Cum enim quemquam de numero Christianorum in ea re quam optime norunt, errare comprehenderint, et vanam sententiam suam de nostris Libris asserere; quo pacto illis Libris credituri sunt, de resurrectione mortuorum, et de spe vitae aeternae, regnoque coelorum, quando de his rebus quas iam experiri, vel indubitatis numeris percipere potuerunt, fallaciter putaverint esse conscriptos? Quid enim molestiae tristitiaeque ingerant prudentibus fratribus temerarii praesumptores, satis dici non potest, cum si quando de prava et falsa opinatione sua reprehendi, et convinci coeperint ab eis qui nostrorum Librorum auctoritate non tenentur, ad defendendum id quod levissima temeritate et apertissima falsitate dixerunt, eosdem Libros sanctos, unde id probent, proferre conantur, vel etiam memoriter, quae ad testimonium valere arbitrantur, multa inde verba pronuntiant, non intellegentes neque quae loquuntur, neque de quibus affirmant.
    • I, xix, 39.
    • Translation by J. H. Taylor in Ancient Christian Writers, Newman Press, 1982, volume 41: "Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion."
    • Variant translation: We must be on our guard against giving interpretations [of scripture] which are hazardous or opposed to science, and so exposing the word of God to the ridicule of unbelievers.

In epistolam Ioannis ad Parthos

  • Once for all, then, a short precept is given thee: Love, and do what thou wilt: whether thou hold thy peace, through love hold thy peace; whether thou cry out, through love cry out; whether thou correct, through love correct; whether thou spare, through love do thou spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.
    • Tractatus VII, 8
    • Latin: "dilige et quod vis fac."; falsely often: "ama et fac quod vis."
    • Translation by Professor Joseph Fletcher: Love and then what you will, do.

Expositions on the Psalms

  • God is one, and the Church is a unity; only unity can respond to him who is one. But there are some people why say, “Yes, that certainly was the case. The Church spread among all nations did respond to him, bearing more children than did the wedded wife. It responded to him in the way of his strength, for it believed that Christ had risen. All nations believed in him. But that Church which was drawn from all nations no longer exists: it has perished.”
    So say people who are not within the Church. What an impudent assertion! The Church does not exist because you are not in it? Be careful lest such an attitude result in your not existing yourself, for the Church will be here even if you are not. But the Spirit of God anticipated this abominable, detestable assertion, this claim full of presumption and falsehood, a claim with nothing to support it, illumined by no spark of wisdom, seasoned by no salt. God’s Spirit anticipated this empty, unfounded, foolhardy and pernicious proposition and seemingly refuted it in advance by proclaiming that the Church is united by the gathering of the people together into one, and kingdoms to serve the Lord.
    • Exposition 2 of Psalm 108. The unity and perpetuity of the Church against the Donatists.
    • Expositions of the Psalms 99-120 (The Works of Saint Augustine, Vol 19 Part 3), Boniface Ramsey, ed., Maria Boulding, O.S.B, tr., New City Press, ISBN 1565481976, ISBN 9781565481961, pp. 68-69


You wish to be great, begin from the least. You are thinking to construct some mighty fabric in height; first think of the foundation of humility.
  • We make a ladder of our vices, if we trample those same vices underfoot.
    • 3
  • So the Church imitates the Lord’s mother — not in the bodily sense, which it could not do — but in mind it is both mother and virgin. In no way, then, did Christ deprive his mother of her virginity by being
  • But it isn’t just a matter of faith, but of faith and works. Each is necessary. For the demons also believe — you heard the apostle — and tremble (Jas 2:19); but their believing doesn’t do them any good. Faith alone is not enough, unless works too are joined to it: Faith working through love (Gal 5:6), says the apostle.
    • 16A:11:2
  • Non enim amat Deus damnare sed salvare, et ideo patiens est in malos, ut de malis faciat bonos.
    • For God loves to save and not to condemn; therefore is he patient with evil, that out of evil good may be brought.
      • 18
  • You wish to be great, begin from the least. You are thinking to construct some mighty fabric in height; first think of the foundation of humility. And how great soever a mass of building one may wish and design to place above it, the greater the building is to be, the deeper does he dig his foundation.
  • But let us realize what sort of rich people. Here comes heaven knows who across our path, wrapped in rags, and he has been jumping for joy and laughing on hearing it said that the rich man can’t enter the kingdom of heaven; and he’s been saying, “I, though, will enter; that’s what theses rags will earn me; those who treat s badly and insult us, those who bear down hard upon us won’t enter; no, that sort certainly won’t enter. But just a minute, Mr. Poor Man; consider whether you can, in fact, enter. What if you’re poor, and also happen to be greedy? What if you’re sunk in destitution, and at the same time on fire with avarice? So if that’s what you’re like, whoever you are that are poor, it’s not because you haven’t wanted to be rich, but because you haven’t been able to. So God doesn’t inspect your means, but he observes your will. So if that’s what you’re like, leading a bad life, of bad morals, a blasphemer, an adulterer, a drunkard, proud, cross yourself off the list of God’s poor; you won’t be among those of whom it is said, Blessed are the poor in spirit, since theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Mt 5:3).
    • Sermon 346A:6 (c. 399 A.D.) "On the Word of God as Leader of the Christians on Their Pilgrimage," Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century, III/10, Sermons, 341-400, New City Press, Edmund Hill O.P., trans., (1995), ISBN 1565480554 ISBN 9781565480285 , p. 74.
  • The fellow who eggs you on to avenge yourself will rob you of what you were going to say – as we forgive our debtors. When you have forfeited that, all your sins will be held against you; absolutely nothing is forgiven.
    • 57:11:3
  • Columba amat et quando caedit. Lupus odit et quando blanditur.
    • The dove loves even when it attacks; the wolf hates even when it flatters.
      • 64
  • Bad times, hard times, this is what people keep saying; but let us live well, and times shall be good. We are the times: Such as we are, such are the times.
    • 80:8
  • So there you are; listen; as I said, God "worships" us in the sense of tending our worth. That we worship God, of course, doesn't need proving to you. It's on everybody's lips, after all, that human beings worship God. That God, though, worships human beings, it's enough to frighten hearers out of their wits, because people are not in the habit of saying that God worships human beings — in that special sense —but that human beings worship God.
    So I've got to prove to you that God too does "worship" human beings, or you will consider, perhaps, that I have used the word very carelessly, and begin arguing against me in your thoughts, and finding fault with me because you don't in fact grasp what I have been saying. So it's agreed that this is what has to be demonstrated to you: that God also "worships" us; but in the sense I have already mentioned, that he tends our worth as his field, to make improvements in us. The Lord says in the gospel: I am the vine, you are the branches; my Father is the farm worker (Jn 15:5,1). What does a farm worker do? I'm asking you, those of you who are farm workers and farmers. What does a farm worker do? I presume he works his farm, that is, tends its worth, that is, "worships" it, in a sense. So if God the Father is a farmer or farm worker, it means he has a farm, and he works or "worships" his farm, and expects a crop from it.
    • Sermon 87:2 (Sermon 37:2) on Matthew 20. Preached in the autumn after 424. Latin
    • The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century (Sermons 51-94), John E. Rotelle, Edmund Hill, eds. & trans., New City Press, 1990 ISBN 0911782850, ISBN 9780911782851 pp. 407- 408.
  • Factus est Deus homo ut homo fieret Deus.
    • God became man so that man might become God.
    • 128
  • Roma locuta est; causa finita est.
    • Rome has spoken; the case is concluded.
    • 131
  • He who created you without you will not justify you without you.
    • 169
  • He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent.
    • St. Augustine, Sermo 169, 11, 13: PL 38, 923 as quoted in Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S. J.. Saved: A Bible Study Guide for Catholics (p. 15). Our Sunday Visitor. Kindle Edition.
  • I too have sworn heedlessly and all the time, I have had this most repulsive and death-dealing habit. I’m telling your graces; from the moment I began to serve God, and saw what evil there is in forswearing oneself, I grew very afraid indeed, and out of fear I applied the brakes to this old, old, habit.
    • 180:10:1
  • When the apostle James was talking about faith and works against those who thought their faith was enough, and didn’t want to have good works, he said, You believe God is one; you do well; the demons also believe, and tremble.” (Jas 2:19)
    • 183:13:2
  • So the Church too, like Mary, enjoys perpetual virginity and uncorrupted fecundity.
    • 195:2
  • Don’t hold yourselves cheap, seeing that the creator of all things and of you estimates your value so high, so dear, that he pours out for you every day the most precious blood of his only-begotten Son.
    • 216:3:1
  • Nobody should ever doubt that in the washing of rebirth (Titus 3:5) absolutely all sins, from the least to the greatest, are altogether forgiven.
    • 229E:2
  • You can live, provided you live; that is, you can live for ever, provided you live a good life.
    • 229H:3:2
  • Ideo, carissimi, veneramini martyres, laudate, amate, praedicate, honorate: Deum martyrum colite.
    • Venerate the martyrs, praise, love, proclaim, honor them. But worship the God of the martyrs.
      • 273:9; translation from: The works of Saint Augustine, John E. Rotelle, New City Press, ISBN 1565480600 ISBN 9781565480605 p. 21.
  • Non ergo accedas, si potes, nisi liberorum procreandorum causa.
    • So if you can manage it, you shouldn’t touch your partner, except for the sake of having children.
      • 278:9; translation from: The works of Saint Augustine, John E. Rotelle, New City Press, 1994, ISBN 1565480600 ISBN 978-1565480605 p. 55.
  • Cantare amantis est.
    • Singing is of a lover.
    • Variant translation: To sing is characteristic of the lover.
      • 336
  • Temporibus enim nostris venit imperator in urbem Romam: ibi est templum imperatoris, ibi est sepulcrum piscatoris. Itaque ille ad deprecandam a Domino salutem imperator pius atque christianus non perrexit ad templum imperatoris superbum, sed ad sepulcrum piscatoris, ubi humilis ipsum piscatorem imitaretur, ut tunc respectus aliquid impetraret a Domino, quod superbiens imperator mereri non posset.
    • In our own times, you see, an emperor came to the city of Rome, where there’s the temple of an emperor, where there’s a fisherman’s tomb. And so that pious and Christian emperor, wishing to beg for health, for salvation from the Lord, did not proceed to the temple of a proud emperor, but to the tomb of a fisherman, where he could imitate that fisherman in humility, so that he, being thus approached, might then obtain something from the Lord, which a haughty emperor would be quite unable to earn.
      • 341:4; English from: Newly Discovered Sermons, 1997, Edmund Hill, tr., John E. Rotelle, ed., New City Press, New York, ISBN 1565481038 ISBN 9781565481039p. p. 286.
  • Mors est poena peccati.
    • Death is the penalty of sin.
      • 348/A:2
  • Quid de se praesumit mortuus? Mori potuit de suo, reviviscere de suo non potest. Peccare per nos ipsos et potuimus et possumus nec tamen per nos resurgere aliquando poterimus. Spes nostra non sit, nisi in Deo 14. Ad illum gemamus, in illo praesumamus; quod ad nos pertinet, voluntate conemur, ut oratione mereamur.
    • Why, being dead, do you rely on yourself? You were able to die of your own accord; you cannot come back to life of your own accord. We were able to sin by ourselves, and we are still able to, nor shall we ever not be able to. Let our hope be in nothing but in God. Let us send up our sighs to him; as for ourselves, let us strive with our wills to earn merit by our prayers.
      • 348A:4 Against Pelagius; English translation from: Newly Discovered Sermons, 1997, Edmund Hill, John E. Rotelle, New City Press, New York, ISBN 1565481038, 9781565481039 pp. 311-312. Editor’s comment: “This sounds like a slightly Pelagian remark! But it is presumably intended to reverse what one may call the Pelagian order of things; and see the last few sections of the sermon, 9-15, on the effect of the heresy on prayer.”
  • Dicturi ergo sunt: Dicis mihi quod resurrexerit Christus, et inde speras resurrectionem mortuorum; sed Christo licuit resurgere a mortuis. Et incipit iam laudare Christum, non ut illi det honorem, sed ut tibi faciat desperationem. Serpentis astuta pernicies, ut laude Christi te avertat a Christo, dolose praedicat quem vituperare non audet. Exaggerat maiestatem illius, ut singularem faciat, ne tu speres tale aliquid, quale in illo resurgente monstratum est. Et quasi religiosior apparet erga Christum, cum dicit: Ecce qui se audet comparare Christo, ut quia resurrexit Christus, et se resurrecturum putet. Noli perturbari perversa laude Imperatoris tui; hostiles insidiae te perturbant, sed Christi humilitas et humanitas te consolatur. Ille praedicat quantum erectus sit Christus a te: Christus autem dicit quantum descendit ad te.
    • So they [the pagans] are going to say, “You tell me that Christ has risen again, and from that you hope for the resurrection of the dead; but Christ was in a position to rise from the dead.” And now he begins to praise Christ, not in order to do him honor, but to make you despair. It is the deadly cunning of the serpent, to turn you away from Christ by praising Christ, to extol deceitfully the one he doesn’t dare to disparage.
      He exaggerates the sovereign majesty of Christ in order to make him out quite unique, to stop you hoping for anything like what was demonstrated in his rising again. And he seems, apparently, to be all the more religiously respectful of Christ, when he says, “Look at the person who dares compare himself to Christ, so that just because Christ rose again, he can imagine that he's going to rise again too!” Don't let this perverse praise of your emperor disturb you. The insidious tricks of the enemy may disturb you, but the humility and humanity of Christ should console you. This man emphasizes how high above you Christ has been lifted up; Christ, though, says how low he came down to you.
      • Sermon 361 On the Resurrection of the Dead; 15 How to answer their exaggerated praise of Christ and their disparaging of Christians.
    • English translation from: Works of Saint Augustine, A Translation for the 21st Century, III/10, Sermons 341-400 (on liturgical seasons), Edmund Hill, tr., John E. Rotelle, ed., New City Press, 1995, ISBN 1565480287 ISBN 9781565480285, pp. 234-235.

De doctrina christiana

  • For if a thing is not diminished by being shared with others, it is not rightly owned if it is only owned and not shared.
    • 1:1:1 English Latin
    • Latin: Omnis enim res quae dando non deficit, dum habetur et non datur, nondum habetur quomodo habenda est.
  • We were ensnared by the wisdom of the serpent; we are set free by the foolishness of God.
    • 1:14
    • Latin: Serpentis sapientia decepti sumus, Dei stultitia liberamur.
  • Since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special regard to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstance, are brought into closer connection with you.
    • 1:28:29 English Latin
    • Latin: Sed cum omnibus prodesse non possis, his potissimum consulendum est, qui pro locorum et temporum vel quarumlibet rerum opportunitatibus constrictius tibi quasi quadam sorte iunguntur.

Contra epistulam Parmeniani

  • Securus iudicat orbis terrarum.
    • The verdict of the world is conclusive.
    • III, 24

Contra Julianum

  • Now, justification in this life is given to us according to these three things: first by the laver of regeneration by which all sins are forgiven; then, by a struggle with the faults from whose guilt we have been absolved; the third, when our prayer is heard, in which we say: ‘Forgive us our debts,’ because however bravely we fight against our faults, we are men; but the grace of God so aids as we fight in this corruptible body that there is reason for His hearing us as we ask forgiveness.
    • Against Julian, Book II, ch. 8, 22. In The Fathers of the Church, Matthew A. Schumacher, tr., 1957, ISBN 0813214009 ISBN 9780813214009 pp. 83-84.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
  • I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are very wise and very beautiful; but I never read in either of them, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden."
    • p. 62
  • As the soul is the life of the body, so God is the life of the soul. As therefore the body perishes when the soul leaves it, so the soul dies when God departs from it.
    • p. 277
  • Christ is not valued at all unless He be valued above all.
    • p. 395
  • It is not by change of place that we can come nearer to Him who is in every place, but by the cultivation of pure desires and virtuous habits.
    • p. 433
  • Give, O Lord, what Thou commandest, and then command what Thou wilt.
    • p. 512
  • Thou hast made us for Thyself, and the heart never resteth till it findeth rest in Thee.
    • p. 515
  • It is no advantage to be near the light if the eyes are closed.
    • p. 607
  • The true servants of God are not solicitous that He should order them to do what they desire to do, but that they may desire to do what He orders them to do.
    • p. 616

On the Mystical Body of Christ

Choose to love whomsoever thou wilt: all else will follow.
From The Whole Christ: The Historical Development of the Doctrine of the Mystical Body in Scripture and Tradition (1938, 1962), Fr. Emile Mersch, S. J. translated by, John R. Kelly, S.J, Part 3. The Doctrine of the Mystical Body in Western Tradition, Ch. 4, Augustine’s Sermons to the People
  • What is the Church? She is the body of Christ. Join to it the Head, and you have one man: The Head and the body make up one man. Who is the head? He who was born of the Virgin Mary. … And what is His body? It is His Spouse, that is, the Church.... The Father willed that these two, the God Christ and the Church, should be one man. All men are one man in Christ, and the unity of the Christians constitutes but one man. And this man is all men, all men are this man; for all are one, since Christ is one.
    • p. 414
  • Let us rejoice and give thanks. Not only are we become Christians, but we are become Christ. My brothers, do you understand the grace of God that is given us? Wonder, rejoice, for we are made Christ! If He is the Head, and we the members, then together He and we are the whole man.... This would be foolish pride on our part, were it not a gift of his bounty. But this is what He promised by the mouth of the Apostle: “You are the body of Christ, and severally His members” (1 Cor. 12:27).
    • p. 415
  • In order to understand the Scriptures, it is absolutely necessary to know the whole, complete Christ, that is, Head and members. For sometimes Christ speaks in the name of the Head alone … sometimes in the name of His body, which is the holy Church spread over the entire earth. And we are in His body … and we hear ourselves speaking in it, for the Apostle tells us: “We are members of His body” (Eph. 5:30). In many places does the Apostle tell us this.
    • p. 419
  • Christ Himself has said: “They are no longer two, but they are one flesh” (Matt. 19:6). Is it strange then, if they are one flesh, that they should have one tongue and should say the same words, since they are one flesh, Head and body? Let us therefore hear them as one. But let us listen to the Head speaking as Head, and to the body speaking as the body. We do not separate the two realities, but two different dignities; for the Head saves, and the body is saved.
    • pp. 419-420
  • What has the Church done to thee, that thou shouldst wish to decapitate her? Thou wouldst take away her Head, and believe in the Head alone, despising the body. Vain is thy service, and false thy devotion to the Head. For to sever it from the body is an injury to both Head and body.
    • p.420
  • Though absent from our eyes, Christ our Head is bound to us by love. Since the whole Christ is Head and body, let us so listen to the voice of the Head that we may also hear the body speak.
    He no more wished to speak alone than He wished to exist alone, since He says: “Behold, I am with you all days, unto the consummation of the world” (Matt. 28:20). If He is with us, then He speaks in us, He speaks of us, and He speaks through us; and we too speak in Him.
    • pp. 420-421
  • He who disdained not to assume us unto Himself, did not disdain to take our place and speak our words, in order that we might speak His words.
    • p.421
  • On the words of Ps. 21:3: "O My God, I shall cry day by day, and Thou wilt not hear".
  • Certainly He says this for me, for thee, for this other man, since He bears His body, the Church. Unless you imagine, brethren, that when He said: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from Me” (Matt. 26:39), it was the Lord that feared to die. . . . But Paul longed to die, that he might be with Christ. What? The Apostle desires to die, and Christ Himself should fear death? What can this mean, except that He bore our infirmity in Himself, and uttered these words for those who are in His body and still fear death? It is from these that the voice came; it was the voice of His members, not of the Head. When He said, “My soul is sorrowful unto death” (Matt. 26:38), He manifested Himself in thee, and thee in Himself. And when He said, “My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46), the words He uttered on the cross were not His own, but ours.
    • p.421
  • Therefore, on hearing His words let no one say either: "These are not Christ's words," or "These are not my words." On the contrary, if he knows that he is in the body of Christ, let him say: "These are both Christ's words and my words." Say nothing without Him, and He will say nothing without thee. We must not consider ourselves as strangers to Christ, or look upon ourselves as other than Himself.
    • p.422
  • No greater gift could God bestow on men than to give them as their Head His Word, by whom He made all things, and to unite them as members to that Head. Thus the Word became both Son of God and Son of man: one God with the Father, one Man with men. Hence, when we offer our petitions to God, let it not detach itself from its Head. Let it be He, the sole Saviour of His body, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who prays for us, who prays in us, and who is prayed to by us. He prays for us as our Priest; He prays in us as our Head; He is prayed to by us as our God. Let us therefore hear both our words in Him and His words in us.... We pray to Him in the form of God; He prays in the form of the slave. There He is the Creator; here He is in the creature. He changes not, but takes the creature and transforms it into Himself, making us one man, head and body, with Himself.
    We pray therefore to Him, and through Him, and in Him. We pray with Him, and He with us; we recite this prayer of the Psalm in Him, and He recites it in us.
    • p.423
  • On Ps 60:3: “To Thee have I cried from the ends of the earth.”
  • Who is this that cries from the ends of the earth? Who is this one man who reaches to the extremities of the universe? He is one, but that one is unity. He is one, not one in a single place, but the cry of this one man comes from the remotest ends of the earth. But how can this one man cry out from the ends of the earth, unless he be one in all?
    • p.423
  • Christ’s whole body groans in pain. Until the end of the world, when pain will pass away, this man groans and cries to God. And each one of us has part in the cry of that whole body. Thou didst cry out in thy day, and thy days have passed away; another took thy place and cried out in his day. Thou here, he there, and another there. The body of Christ ceases not to cry out all the day, one member replacing the other whose voice is hushed. Thus there is but one man who reaches unto the end of time, and those that cry are always His members.
    • p.423
  • The Apostle says: “I make up in my flesh what is lacking to the sufferings of Christ” (Col. 1:24). “I make up,” he tells us, “not what is lacking to my sufferings, but what is lacking to the sufferings of Christ; not in Christ’s flesh, but in mine. not in Christ's flesh, but in mine. Christ is still suffering, not in His own flesh which He took with Him into heaven, but in my flesh, which is still suffering on earth.”
    • p.423
  • What does the Scripture mean when it tells us of the body of one man so extended in space that all can kill him? We must understand these words of ourselves, of our Church, or the body of Christ. For Jesus Christ is one man, having a Head and a body. The Saviour of the body and the members of the body are two in one flesh, and in one voice, and in one passion, and, when iniquity shall have passed away, in one repose.
    And so the passion of Christ is not in Christ alone; and yet the passion of Christ is in Christ alone. For if in Christ you consider both the Head and the body, the Christ’s passion is in Christ alone; but if by Christ you mean only the Head, then Christ’s passion is not in Christ alone. Hence if you are in the members of Christ, all you who hear me, and even you who hear me not (though you do hear, if you are united with the members of Christ), whatever you suffer at the hands of those who are no among the members of Christ, was lacking to the sufferings of Christ. It is added precisely because it was lacking. You fill up the measure; you do not cause it to overflow. You will suffer just so much as must be added of your sufferings to the complete passion of Christ, who suffered as our Head and who continues to suffer in His members, that is, in us. Into this common treasury each pays what he owes, and according to each one’s ability we all contribute our share of suffering. The full measure of the Passion will not be attained until the end of the world.
    • pp. 424-425
  • When the Head and members are despised, then the whole Christ is despised, for the whole Christ, Head and body, is that just man against whom deceitful lips speak iniquity (Ps. 30:19).
    • p.425
  • O sons of Peace, sons of the One Catholic [Church], walk in your way, and sing as you walk. Travelers do this in order to keep up their spirits.
    • p.427
  • "For I am holy." When I hear these words I recognize the voice of the Saviour. But shall I take away my own? Certainly when He speaks thus He speaks in inseparable union with His body. But can I say, "I am holy"? If I mean a holiness that I have not received, I should be proud and a liar; but if I mean a holiness that I have received - as it is written: "Be ye holy because I the Lord your God am holy" (Lev. 19:2) - then let the body of Christ say these words. And let this one man, who cries from the ends of the earth, say with his Head and united with his Head: "I am holy." … That is not foolish pride, but an expression of gratitude. If you were to say that you are holy of yourselves, that would be pride; but if, as one of Christ's faithful and as a member of Christ, you say that you are not holy, you are ungrateful. …
    • p.428
  • Therefore let every Christian, yea, let the whole body of Christ everywhere cry out, despite the tribulations it endures, despite temptations and countless scandals, saying: "Preserve my soul, for I am holy; save Thy servant, O my God, that trusteth in thee" (Ps. 85:2) No, this holy one is not proud, for he trusts in God.
    • p.429
  • The members of Christ, many though they be, are bound to one another by the ties of charity and peace under the one Head, who is our Saviour Himself, and form one man. Often their voice is heard in the Psalms as the voice of one man; the cry of one is as the cry of all, for all are one in One.
    • p.430
  • The Word takes to Himself one man, for He takes unity. He does not take schisms to Himself, nor does He take heresies. … So it is one man who is taken, and his Head is Christ. … This is that "blessed man who hath not walked in the council of the ungodly" (Ps. 1:1); this is he that is assumed. He is not outside of us. … Let us be in Him, and we shall be assumed; let us be in Him, and we shall be chosen. … Therefore this one man that is taken to become the temple of God, is at once many and one.
    • p.430
  • Since He is the Mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus has been made Head of the Church, and the faithful are His members. Wherefore He says: "For them I hallow Myself" (John 17:19). But when He says, "For them I hallow Myself," what else can He mean but this: "I sanctify them in Myself, since truly they are Myself"? For, as I have remarked, they of whom He speaks are His members, and the Head of the body are one Christ. … That He signifies this unity is certain from the remainder of the same verse. For having said, "For them I hallow Myself," He immediately adds, "in order that they too may be hallowed in truth," to show that He refers to the holiness that we are to receive in Him. Now the words "in truth" can only mean "in Me," since Truth is the Word who in the beginning was God.
    The Son of man was Himself sanctified in the Word as the moment of His creation, when the Word was made flesh, for Word and man became one Person. It was therefore in that instant that He hallowed Himself in Himself; that is, He hallowed Himself as man, in Himself as the Word. For there is but one Christ, Word and man, sanctifying the man in the Word.
    But now it is on behalf of His members that He adds: "and for them I hallow Myself." That is to say, that since they too are Myself, so they too may profit by this sanctification just as I profited by it as man without them. "And for them I hallow Myself"; that is, I sanctify them in Myself as Myself, since in Me they too are Myself. "In order that they too may be hallowed in truth." What do the words "they too" mean, if not that thy may be sanctified as I am sanctified; that is to say, "in truth," which is I Myself? [Quia et ipsi sunt ego. "Since they too are myself"]
    • pp. 431-432
  • We are He, since we are His body and since He was made man in order to be our Head.
    • p.432
  • We are members of this Head, and this body cannot be decapitated. If the Head is in glory forever, so too are the members in glory forever, that Christ may be undivided forever.
    • p.433
  • In this one man, the whole Church has been assumed by the Word.
    • p.434
  • Incomprehensible and immutable is the love wherewith God loves. He did not begin to love us only on the day we were reconciled to Him by the blood of His Son; He loved us before the world was made, that we too might become His sons together with His Only-begotten Son, long before we had any existence....
    • p.435
  • Love all men, even your enemies; love them, not because they are your brothers, but that they may become your brothers. Thus you will ever burn with fraternal love, both for him who is already your brother and for your enemy, that he may by loving become your brother. … Even he that does not as yet believe in Christ … love him, and love him with fraternal love. He is not yet thy brother, but love him precisely that he may be thy brother.
    • p.436
  • What is the use of believing, if the dost blaspheme? Thou adorest Him as Head, and dost blaspheme Him in His body. He loves His body. Thou canst cut thyself off from the body, but the Head does not detach itself from its body. "Thou dost honor me in vain," He cries from heaven, "thou dost honor Me in vain!" If someone wished to kiss thy cheek, but insisted at the same time on trampling thy feet; if with his hailed boots he were to crush thy feet as he tries to hold thy head and kiss thee, wouldst thou not interrupt his expression of respect and cry out: "What are thou doing, man? Thou art trampling upon me!" …
    It is for this reason that before He ascended into heaven our Lord Jesus Christ recommended to us His body, by which He was to remain upon earth. For He foresaw that many would pay Him homage because of His glory in heaven, but that their homage would be vain, so long as they despise His members on earth. (pp. 436-437)
  • Choose to love whomsoever thou wilt: all else will follow. Thou mayest say, "I love only God, God the Father." Wrong! If Thou lovest Him, thou dost not love Him alone; but if thou lovest the Father, thou lovest also the Son. Or thou mayest say, "I love the Father and I love the Son, but these alone; God the Father and God the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ who ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of the Father, the Word by whom all things were made, the Word who was made flesh and dwelt amongst us; only these do I love." Wrong again! If thou lovest the Head, thou lovest also the members; if thou lovest not the members, neither dost thou love the Head.
    • p 438

Contra epistolam Manichaei

  • Ego vero Evangelio non crederem, nisi me catholicae Ecclesiae commoveret auctoritas.
    • But I would not believe in the Gospel, had not the authority of the Catholic Church already moved me.


To wisdom belongs the intellectual apprehension of things eternal; to knowledge, the rational apprehension of things temporal.
  • Humilitas homines sanctis angelis similes facit, et superbia ex angelis demones facit.
    • It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.
      • As quoted in Manipulus Florum (c. 1306), edited by Thomas Hibernicus, Superbia i cum uariis; also in Best Thoughts Of Best Thinkers: Amplified, Classified, Exemplified and Arranged as a Key to unlock the Literature of All Ages (1904) edited by Hialmer Day Gould and Edward Louis Hessenmueller
  • My mother spoke of Christ to my father, by her feminine and childlike virtues, and, after having borne his violence without a murmur or complaint, gained him at the close of his life to Christ.
    • Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 351
  • Charity is no substitute for justice withheld.
    • As quoted in Majority of One (1957) by Sydney J. Harris, p. 283
  • What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.
    • As quoted in Quote, Unquote (1977) by Lloyd Cory, p. 197
  • Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.
    • As quoted in Spirituality and Liberation: Overcoming the Great Fallacy (1988) by Robert McAfee Brown, p. 136
  • To wisdom belongs the intellectual apprehension of things eternal; to knowledge, the rational apprehension of things temporal.
    • As quoted in The Anchor Book of Latin Quotations: with English translations‎ (1990) by Norbert Guterman, p. 375
  • By faithfulness we are collected and wound up into unity within ourselves, whereas we had been scattered abroad in multiplicity.
    • As quoted in Footprints in Time : Fulfilling God's Destiny for Your Life (2007) by Jeff O'Leary, p. 223
  • Woman, compared to other creatures, is the image of God, for she bears dominion over them. But compared unto man, she may not be called the image of God, for she bears not rule and lordship over man, but ought to obey him. The woman shall be subject to man as unto Christ. For woman, has not her example from the body and from the flesh, that so she shall be subject to man, as the flesh is unto the Spirit, because that the flesh in the weakness and mortality of this life lusts and strives against the Spirit, and therefore would not the Holy Ghost give example of subjection to the woman of any such thing.
  • The female defects – greed, hate, and delusion and other defilements – are greater than the male’s…You [women] should have such an intention…Because I wish to be freed from the impurities of the woman’s body, I will acquire the beautiful and fresh body of a man.
  • Without God, we cannot. Without us, God will not.
    • As quoted in If God Be For Us : Sermons on the Gifts of the Gospel (1954), by Robert Edward Luccock, p. 38; this may be a variant translation or paraphrase of an expression in his 169th sermon: "He who created you without you will not justify you without you."
  • If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don't like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.


  • Quando hic sum, non iuieno Sabbato; quando Romae sum, iuieno Sabbato.
    • When I am here, I do not fast on Saturday; when at Rome, I do fast on Saturday.
      • Here, in Letter 36 "To Casulanus" (396 A.D.), Augustine is quoting Ambrose.
      • Origin of the phrase: "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."
  • Qui cantat, bis orat
    • He who sings prays twice.
    • Not found in his writings. In his "Expositions on the Psalms" for psalm 72, he wrote, "Qui enim cantat laudem, non solum laudat, sed etiam hilariter laudat; qui cantat laudem, non solum cantat, sed et amat eum quem cantat." An English translation would be "For he who sings praise, does not only praise, but also praises joyously; he who sings praise, is not only singing, but also loving Him whom he is singing of." Possibly arose from someone hearing part of a similar translation incorrectly and confusing the English homonyms "praise" and "prays".
  • Inter faeces et urinam nascimur.
    • We are born between feces and urine.
      • Attributed to a church father in Freud's Dora; Freud seems to have found it in an anatomy textbook by Josef Hyrtl (1867), where it was attributed to a church father; it may have been invented by Hyrtl. [] For Hyrtl's quotation see [].
    • Variant: We are born amid feces and urine.
  • The world is a great book, of which they that never stir from home read only a page.
    • Attributed to Augustine in "Select Proverbs of All Nations" (1824) by "Thomas Fielding" (John Wade), p. 216, and later in the form "The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page", as quoted in 20,000 Quips & Quotes (1995) by Evan Esar, p. 822; this has not been located in Augustine's writings, and may be a variant translation of an expression found in Le Cosmopolite (1753) by Fougeret de Monbron: "The universe is a sort of book, whose first page one has read when one has seen only one's own country."
  • There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.
    • This is sometimes attributed to Augustine, but the earliest known occurrence is in Persian Rosary (c. 1929) by Ahmad Sohrab (PDF), which probably originates as a paraphrase of a statement in Oscar Wilde's 1893 play A Woman of No Importance: "The only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future."
  • Our bodies are shaped to bear children, and our lives are a working out of the processes of creation. All our ambitions and intelligence are beside that great elemental point.
    • Sometimes attributed to Augustine, but is from Phyllis McGinley, The Province of the Heart, "The Honor of Being a Woman" (1959).
The Word of God can take care of itself, and will do so if we preach it, and cease defending it. See you that lion. They have caged him for his preservation; shut him up behind iron bars to secure him from his foes! See how a band of armed men have gathered together to protect the lion. What a clatter they make with their swords and spears! These mighty men are intent upon defending a lion. O fools, and slow of heart! Open that door! Let the lord of the forest come forth free. Who will dare to encounter him? What does he want with your guardian care? Let the pure gospel go forth in all its lion-like majesty, and it will soon clear its own way and ease itself of its adversaries.
  • The Lover of God’s Law Filled with Peace (January 1888)
and the earlier:
There seems to me to have been twice as much done in some ages in defending the Bible as in expounding it, but if the whole of our strength shall henceforth go to the exposition and spreading of it, we may leave it pretty much to defend itself. I do not know whether you see that lion — it is very distinctly before my eyes; a number of persons advance to attack him, while a host of us would defend the grand old monarch, the British Lion, with all our strength. Many suggestions are made and much advice is offered. This weapon is recommended, and the other. Pardon me if I offer a quiet suggestion. Open the door and let the lion out; he will take care of himself. Why, they are gone! He no sooner goes forth in his strength than his assailants flee. The way to meet infidelity is to spread the Bible. The answer to every objection against the Bible is the Bible.
  • All truth is God's truth.
    • Paraphrase of "Wherever one discovers truth, it is the Lord's" from Augustine's On Christian Teaching, Book 2.

Quotes about Augustine

They saw a little child, who, having dug a tiny hole in the sand, was filling it with sea-water out of a cockle-shell. Augustine, smiling, asked him whether he thought to empty the whole ocean into it? The child replied, "Why not? It would be easier than to get into your head the incomprehensible ocean of the Holy Trinity!"
Sorted alphabetically by author or source
The first thinker who brought into prominence and undertook an analysis of the philosophical and psychological concepts of person and personality. ~ Paul Henry
He was a genius — an intellectual giant — and he received a thorough classical education. ~ Norman Cantor
No one, it seems to me, can hope to equal Augustine. Who, nowadays, could hope to equal one who, in my judgment, was the greatest in an age fertile in great minds? ~ Petrarch
  • St. Augustine occupied himself with several religious works, and among others, a Treatise on the Trinity. One day, as he was walking up and down the shore, meditating on this mystery with his mother, they saw a little child, who, having dug a tiny hole in the sand, was filling it with sea-water out of a cockle-shell. Augustine, smiling, asked him whether he thought to empty the whole ocean into it? The child replied, "Why not? It would be easier than to get into your head the incomprehensible ocean of the Holy Trinity!"
  • A Berber, born in 354 at Thagaste (now Souk-Ahras) in Africa... The exceptional brilliance of his works (The City of God, The Confessions), his contradictory nature, his desire to bring together faith and intelligence, classical and Christian civilization, the old wine and the new — these deliberate efforts made him in some ways a rationalist. For him, faith came first: but he nevertheless declared 'Credo ut intelligam' — 'I believe in order to understand.' He also said 'Si fallor, sum' — 'If I am mistaken, I exist' — and 'Si dubitat, vivit' — 'If he doubts, he is alive'... Posterity undoubtedly concentrated its attention on St Augustine as a theologian, and on what he wrote about predestination. But Augustinianism gave Western Christianity some of its colour and its ability to adapt and debate — if only by insisting on the vital need to embrace the faith in full awareness, after deep personnal reflection, and with the will to act accordingly.
    • Fernand Braudel, A History of Civilizations (1963), Penguin Books (1995 edition), p. 335
  • In the history of thought and civilization, Saint Augustine appears to me to be the first thinker who brought into prominence and undertook an analysis of the philosophical and psychological concepts of person and personality. These ideas, so vital to contemporary man, shape not only Augustine's own doctrine on God but also his philosophy of man: man as an individual, man as a member of societies and institutions — the family, the city, the state and the church.
    • Paul Henry, S.J., in Saint Augustine on Personality: The Saint Augustine Lecture (1960), p. 1
  • Of all the fathers of the church, St. Augustine was the most admired and the most influential during the Middle Ages. He was well suited by background and experience to conduct a fundamental examination of the relationship of the Christian experience to classical culture. Augustine was an outsider — a native North African whose family was not Roman but Berber (today regarded as "Arabs"). … Not born to the imperial power elite, he could disassociate himself from the empire and its destiny.
    Augustine was enormously learned. He was a genius — an intellectual giant — and he received a thorough classical education. He was not much of a linguist (his Greek was poor, and he never learned Hebrew) but he was a master of Latin rhetoric; certain passages in The City of God equal the writings of Cicero in complexity and eloquence.
  • His considered answer to what God was doing before creating the universe was "the world was made with time and not in time." Augustine's God is a being who transcends time, a being located outside time altogether and responsible for creating time as well as space and matter. Thus Augustine skillfully avoided the problem of why the creation happened at that moment rather than some earlier moment. There were no earlier moments. Identical reasoning applies to the scientific problem. If the universe originated in time, then it cannot have been caused by any physical process that has a finite probability, because if it did, then the event would already have happened, an infinite time ago. ...He wasn't even the first person to hit on the idea of time coming into being with the universe. Plato said much the same thing hundreds of years earlier. The history of philosophy is so rich and diverse that it would be astonishing if theories emerging from science hadn't been foreshadowed in some vague way by somebody.
    • Paul Davies, Cosmic Jackpot: Why Our Universe is Just Right for Life (2007)
  • He was himself a true African. Indeed, we may say he was an African first and a Roman afterwards, since, in spite his genuine loyalty towards the Empire, he shows none of the specifically Roman patriotism which marks Ambrose or Prudentius.
    • Christopher Dawson, Enquiries into Religion and Culture (1933), CUA Press edition, 2009 , p. 109
  • The greatest influence during the dark ages was Augustine, who was influenced by Plotinus, who was influenced by Indian mysticism. Long before Aldous Huxley found Yoga a remedy for our Brave New World, Schopenhauer called the Upanishads the consolation of his life.
    • Arthur Koestler. source: The Indian Encyclopaedia, Subodh Kapoor. Quoted from Gewali, Salil (2013). Great Minds on India. New Delhi: Penguin Random House.
  • Augustine, the North African of Berber descent, is today the spiritual father of multitudes who are remote indeed from him racially, politically, and culturally.
    • John H. Leith, From Generation to Generation: The Renewal of the Church According to Its Own Theology and Practice, Westminster John Knox Press, 1990, p. 24
  • As a Theologian, I learned from my master, St. Augustine, a Berber, that all nations are necessarily a mixture, which it is not impossible for us to disentangle, of the City of Good and the City of Evil.
  • If the orthodoxy of Augustine had remained the teaching of the Church, the final establishment of Evolution would have come far earlier than it did, certainly during the eighteenth instead of the nineteenth century, and the bitter controversy over this truth of Nature would never have arisen.
  • Plainly as the direct or instantaneous Creation of animals and plants appeared to be taught in Genesis, Augustine read this in the light of primary causation and the gradual development from the imperfect to the perfect of Aristotle. This most influential teacher thus handed down to his followers opinions which closely conform to the progressive views of those theologians of the present day who have accepted the Evolution theory.
  • Augustine thus sought a naturalistic interpretation of the Mosaic record, or potential rather than special creation, and taught that in the institution of Nature we should not look for miracles but for the laws of Nature.
  • I would inquire of reasonable persons whether this principle: Matter is naturally wholly incapable of thought, and this other: I think, therefore I am, are in fact the same in the mind of Descartes, and in that of St. Augustine, who said the same thing twelve hundred years before. ...I am far from affirming that Descartes is not the real author of it, even if he may have learned it only in reading this distinguished saint; for I know how much difference there is between writing a word by chance without making a longer and more extended reflection on it, and perceiving in this word an admirable series of conclusions, which prove the distinction between material and spiritual natures, and making of it a firm and sustained principle of a complete metaphysical system, as Descartes has pretended to do. is on this supposition that I say that this expression is as different in his writings from the saying in others who have said it by chance, as in a man full of life and strength, from a corpse.
  • The whole of North Africa was a glory of Christendom with St. Augustine, himself a Berber, its chief ornament.
  • No one, it seems to me, can hope to equal Augustine. Who, nowadays, could hope to equal one who, in my judgment, was the greatest in an age fertile in great minds?
    • Petrarch, in a letter to Giovanni Boccaccio (28 April 1373), as quoted in Petrarch : The First Modern Scholar and Man of Letters (1898) edited by James Harvey Robinson and Henry Winchester Rolfe, p. 418
  • Augustine’s importance to the subsequent history of Europe is impossible to exaggerate. His political theory, which is all we focus on here, was a very small part of what he wrote in some 113 books and innumerable letters and sermons. Nonetheless, it is pregnant with arguments that racked not only Christian Europe but the modern world: how seriously should a Christian with his eyes on eternity take the politics of this earthly life; is it the duty of the state to protect the church, repress heresy, and ensure that its citizens adhere to the one true faith; absent a Christian ruler, are we absolved of the duty to obey our rulers, or must we follow Saint Paul’s injunction to “obey the powers that be”? More generally, Augustine articulated distinctive and long-lived thoughts on matters that remain controversial: the nature of just war, the illegitimacy of the death penalty, the limits of earthly justice. The fact that his views on all these matters were embedded in a theology of some bleakness does not mean that they do not survive on their own merits. One needs only the barest sympathy with the thought that we are fallen creatures to find many of his views deeply appealing, far from cheerful as they may be.
    • Alan Ryan, On Politics (2012), Ch. 5 : Augustine’s Two Cities
  • There would be no end to quotations that bring out the unequalled influence of Augustine’s thought and work on the Latin West. « No work by a Christian author in the Latin tongue was to stir such great admiration and inquietude and enjoy such glory » (Dominique de Courcelles, Augustin ou le génie de l’Europe). To the point that the author of this passage, while aware that he is speaking, as he says, « of a Christian Berber », nevertheless gives his book the title Augustine or the Genius of Europe. And the genius was a Numidian of the Roman Empire. What a decanting of wisdom from the south to the north of the Mediterranean!
  • This idea of these great fathers of the Eastern Church took even stronger hold on the great father of the Western Church. For St. Augustine, so fettered usually by the letter of the sacred text, broke from his own famous doctrine as to the acceptance of Scripture and spurned the generally received belief of a creative process... In his great treatise [De Cenesi contra Manichæos] on Genesis he says: "To suppose that God formed man from the dust with bodily hands is very childish. ...God neither formed man with bodily hands nor did he breathe upon him with throat and lips."
  • In the Middle Ages society was far more static and was essentially hierarchical in nature. As a result the causal or genetic attitude was far less important in medieval thought that it is in ours and the concept of evolution had little influence compared with the role of symbolism in the general world-view... Moreover, even the concept of time itself was of less significance to historians... For St Augustine the date of an event was of far less importance than its theological significance. His tendency to see everything in a theological rather than in a historical perspective was a powerful influence in the Middle Ages... It was not until the nineteenth century that the fundamental significance of the historical perspective came to be generally recognized. This was several hundred years after the theory and practice of perspective had been developed by painters and others. In each case a new way of looking at the world resulted.
Works by Augustine
Ancient Greek schools of philosophy
Pre-Socratic AnaxagorasAnaximanderAnaximenesDemocritusEmpedoclesHeraclitus • Leucippus • MelissusParmenidesProtagorasPythagorasThalesZeno of Elea
Socratic Antisthenes • Aristippus • AristotleDiogenes of Sinope • Euclid of Megara • Phaedo of Elis • PlatoSocrates
Hellenistic Apollonius of TyanaAugustineEpictetusEpicurus • John Philoponus • LucretiusPlotinusProclus • Pyrrho • Sextus EmpiricusZeno of Citium
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