Day 4 – PASTORAL
Augustinian spirituality is not authoritarian and hierarchical even in the Church. It will be a spirituality for a church attempting to replace a hierarchical and authoritarian clerical style with a pastoral one. There is in Augustine no “divine” bishop. Though the bishop is a priest, pastor, father and preacher, he is not the perfect or divine hierarchy, nor the causally mediating link between the heavenly and the earthly orders, the point where the lowest rank of heaven touches the highest pinnacle of earth. Augustine definitely places the bishop within the church as a servant member, a sinner, a lamb of the flock, a son of the divine Father, a hearer of the Word.
Day 3 – CONVERSION
Confronting a narcissistic culture, what is called the “me” generation, we shall acknowledge that the secular western self has not and will not disappear. The attempts to deconstruct it and to make it only intuitive, immediate, impulsive, extatic, nothing but spontaneous erotic creativity have not succeeded, though this has been the chief effort of humanistic education, many religious and most cultural institutions for some time. Even if objectifying knowledge, selfish calculation, technocratic and bureaucratic control for the sake of pleasure are only decadent forms of the western self, they remind us of how tough it is and how well established. After all we Augustinians know that this selfishness was established face to face with God. To make it healthy again it must, like Augustine, be converted.
Day 2 – NO SPARATION BETWEEN PHILOSOPHY AND SACRED DOCTRINE
For Augustine, Christian faith is our philosophy. For him revelation exposes the structure of the self to be image of the Trinity, and thus the believer passes from self-knowledge to the highest mystery of faith. For him, revelation heard from without moves the soul to find the very point where it touches God and to seek the knowledge of all things in His Truth. Therefore, Augustinian theology seemed incapable of sufficiently separating philosophy from sacred doctrine, reason from revelation, nature from grace.
Day 1 – SELF-KNOWLEDGE
Self-knowledge is the key to spiritual life in Augustine. This is not a mere experience of the self, a narcissistic introspection, and it is the very opposite of the self as bundle of experiences. No, for Augustine the revelation of God in Christ, recorded in the Holy Scripture and understood in the Spirit ruled Councils of the Church, restores to humans their proper knowledge of the structure of the self. The human self is without any intermediary a mirror of the Divine Trinity. The human self directly and immediately reflects what God truly is. The life of God, his essence flowing in an eternal circle from the Father to the Son and from them to the Spirit, is best reflected in the human mind. Augustine’s affirmation of the human self when it is face to face with God and his embrace of self-knowledge as the best way to the knowledge of God and nature has a direct result.