St. Augustine



Faith - Hope - Charity

There are some who believe that Christian religion should be silenced rather than accepted, because in it, instead of showing things that are seen, men are commanded, having faith in things that are not seen.

Faith in things not seen

Nothing more certain than the inner vision of the soul.
So to refute those who seem cautious to refuse to believe what they cannot see, and although we are unable to show the human realities that we believe in human eyes, yet we can demonstrate to human minds that we must also believe those things that they do not see in each other. First, to those who foolishly made slaves of carnal eyes, who think they do not have to believe what they do not see, it is worth remembering how many things, not only they believe but also know, that they cannot even see with such eyes. Already in our soul, which is of invisible nature, there are innumerable. Not to mention anything else, just the faith with which we believe or the thought with which we know to believe or not believe something, are totally strangers to the eyes of those eyes; Yet what is more manifest, more evident, more certain than the inner vision of the soul? So how can we not believe what we do not see with the eyes of the body when we realize that we believe or disbelieve, even though we cannot help the eyes of the body?

No disposition of the soul can be seen with the eyes of the body.
But, they say, these things that are in the soul, because we can perceive them with the soul itself, there is no need to know them through the eyes of the body; Those who, instead, propose us to believe, do not show them outside so that we know them through the eyes of the body, nor are they inside, our souls, so that we can see them with thought. This is what they say: as if ordering someone to believe in the opportunity to see before him the object of believing. Of course, we are bound to believe in some temporal realities that we do not see, deserving to see even the eternal ones in which we believe. But whoever you are, you who do not want to believe if you do not see what you see, here you see with the eyes of the body the bodies present and you see with the soul, because I am in your soul, your will and your thoughts of the moment; Now please tell me, your friend's good disposition towards you with what eyes do you see it? No arrangement, in fact, can be seen with the eyes of the body. Or do you see perhaps with your soul what is happening in the soul of others? But if you do not see it, how do you spare your friend's benevolence, since you do not believe what you cannot see? Or, by chance, are you saying that you see the disposition of others by his works? So, you will see the facts and hear the words, but, about the arrangement of your friend, you will have to believe what you cannot see or hear. In fact, that arrangement is neither a color nor a form that is touched by the eyes, it is not a sound or melody that penetrates into your ears, and not your disposition, which is perceived by a motion of your heart. So you do not have to believe what is neither seen nor heard or perceived within you, so that your life will not be left empty, without any friendship, or the love you have received is not, in your turn, to be returned to you. Where, then, is what you said, that is, you do not have to believe except what you see, outside with the body, or inside with your heart? Behold, from your heart you believe in a heart that is not yours, and where you do not look at the look of flesh and mind, give us the faith. You, with your body, see the face of your friend, with your spirit to discern your faith: but about your friend's faith you cannot love him if, in your turn, you do not have in you that faith with which you believe this is that you do not see in him. Though man can also deceive by pleading good or by concealing evil or, if he is not going to harm, expecting some advantage from you, yet he simulates why he lacks love.

Nelle avversità si prova il vero amico.
But, according to what you say, you believe in your friend, whom you cannot see in the heart because you experienced it in your difficult situations and you knew what is your disposition during the dangers where you did not abandoned him. Perhaps, in your opinion, should we wish for misfortune to have proof of the love of our friends towards us? And no one will try the happiness that comes from trustworthy friends, if it has not been unhappy for adversity, or will you never enjoy the proven love of another unless it has been tormented by its own pain or fear? So how can you want, and not rather fear, that happiness that you try to have true friends when only unhappiness can make it certain? And yet it is beyond doubt that you can have a friend even in prosperity, although it is in adversity that we have the most reliable evidence.

We believe in the hearts of friends even before we test them.
But to test them, you would not trust your verdicts if you did not believe your beliefs. Therefore, as you act to test them, prove to believe in him before he is assured of his sincerity. Certainly, if we do not have to believe what we do not see as it is explained that we believe in the hearts of our friends even when we do not yet have the evidence that certifies their goodness? And how is it explained that even if we have the evidence, do we believe in their benevolence towards us? All this happens only because there is so much confidence in us that, as a consequence, we think to see if we can say with his eyes what we are convinced of. And we are bored to believe, just because we cannot see it.

If trust disappears, the friendship will end.
If this faith were to fail because of human affairs, who would not realize how much confusion it would determine in them and what horrible confusion would follow? In fact, if I do not have to believe what I do not see, who will be torn from another, since in itself love is invisible? Therefore, friendship ends, since it consists of mutual love. What love, in fact, will it be possible to receive from another, unless it is believed that it has been given? With the end of friendship then there will not be any balances in the mind or the marriage constraints, nor those of consanguinity nor those of kinship, because even in them there is certainly a common way of feeling based on friendship. The spouses therefore will not be able to love each other when, seeing the love as such, one does not believe to be loved by the other. They will not want to have children because they do not believe they will be backed up by them. And these, if they are born and grow, will love their parents much less, not seeing in their hearts the love towards oneself, since it is invisible; Of course, however, if belief in the things you do not see is a sign of guilty impudence and not of praiseworthy faith. What about the other family ties between brothers and sisters, between generations and in-laws, between relatives of any degree of consanguinity and affinity, if love is uncertain and the will is suspected, both from parents to their children and as a part Of children to their parents, and so long as the due benevolence is not reciprocated, why is it not due to it when, without seeing it, is it not believed that there is one in the other? On the other hand, if it is not naive, it is less hateful for this caution for which we do not believe we are loved because we do not see the love of those who love us, so we do not embrace those who is not in the duty to repay. So human beings, not believing what they do not see, are so scrupulous, to be destroyed to the foundations if we do not believe in any man's will, which we certainly cannot see. I'm left behind to tell how many things of public opinion, history or places where they have never been, believe those who take us back to the fact that we believe what we do not see and wonder how they do not say "we do not believe because we did not See, "since their beliefs are based on things expressed by others and not verified or lived in person. If they said this, they would have to confess that they did not have any certainty about the identity of their parents, for even in this case, they believed what others told him, without being able to show him why he was now gone; and although they did not retain any memory of the time of their birth, however, they gave full consent to those who later spoke to him. If that were not the case, it would inevitably result in an irrational lack of respect for parents, at the same time as trying to avoid the dread of believing in those things that we cannot see.

The presence of clear clues encourages us to believe.
If, therefore, by not believing what we cannot see, the same human society will collapse because concord would be lacking, the more it becomes necessary to faith in divine realities, even if it is reality that is not seen. If they did not trust their faith, not the friendship of any man, but the same supreme religion, would be violated, so that it would result in the sum of unhappiness.

But, you will say, the kindness of a friend to me, although I cannot see it, but I can search it through many clues; You, on the other hand, cannot show with any clue what you want us to believe, even without having seen them. Meanwhile, it is not uncommon for you to say that you have to believe some things that you do not see, even when there are clear clues; and already this, in fact, would be sufficient to conclude that not everything that cannot be seen must not be believed. And it is so completely disregarded that assumption that it is said that we must not believe the things we do not see. However, many believe that those who believe that we believe in Christ without any clue about Him. Which clues, in fact, are clearer than the things we now observe and which have been preached and then realized? You, therefore, exclude the existence of clues to believe in those things you do not see, regarding Christ, consider at least what you see.

The Church itself, with words of maternal love, comforts you: "I, what you see with fruitful wonder and grow all over the world, I once did not see what time you perceive me." But in your seed all people will be blessed. When God blessed Abraham, he promised me, "In fact, I am spreading among all nations in the blessing of Christ." That Christ is the seed of Abraham, attest to him the order of succession of generations. To summarize briefly, Abraham generates Isaac, Isaac generates Jacob, Jacob generates twelve sons, from which the people of Israel came. Jacob himself, in fact, had the name of Israel. Among these twelve sons, Judah was born, from which came the name of the Jews, among whom the Virgin Mary was born, who bore Christ. And behold, in Christ, that is in Abraham's seed, you see that all the people are blessed; Yet still hesitate to believe in Him, in which you should have rather fear not to believe. Do you doubt or refuse to believe that a virgin has given birth, when should you rather believe that it succumbed to God to be born as a man? Know, in fact, that this was also predicted through the prophet: "Here a virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, who will call Emmanuel," which means "God is with us". You will no longer doubt that a virgin can give birth, if you want to believe in a God who is born and, without abandoning the government of the world, is among the men in the flesh, and that he may grant to the mother fertility without removing her Virginal integrity. Thus it was necessary that he was born as a man, even though he was always God, because the birth would become God for us. For this reason, the Prophet says again of Him: "Your throne, God, lasts forever, is the scepter of righteousness the scepter of your kingdom Thou hast loved the righteousness, and hated the iniquity: for this God, thy God, hath consecrated thee with oil of gladness, preferring thine equal. This is the spiritual unity with which God associates God, that is, the Father the Son: whereby we know that Christ takes the name of a chrism, which means anointment. I am the Church, of which one speaks in that same psalm, preaching as it has already been done: "The queen is on your right hand, in gold dresses, adorned with various colors", that is, in the sign of wisdom, adorned from the variety of languages. It is said to me: "Hear, O daughter, and look, give ear, and forget your people and your father's house, for the king liked your beauty, for He is the Lord your God. They will bow down to the daughters of Tire with gifts, all the rich of the people will touch your face, all the glory of the king's daughter is inside, and it is wrapped in a gold-colored dress of various colors. They will be led to the king, your companions will be led away, they will be led into joy and exultation, they will be led into the temple of the king: in the place of your fathers your children are born, you will make them leaders of all the earth. Your name, from generation to generation. Therefore, peoples will give you praise forever, for centuries.".

Prophecies on the Church are fulfilled.
If you did not see this queen, now also fruitful of royalty; If he, to whom it was said, "Hear, O daughter, and look," he would not have seen the promise once heard; If he who was told, "Forget your people and your father's house," he did not abandon the old customs of the world; If he was to whom it was said, "To the king is your beauty, for he is the Lord your God," he would not know everywhere that Christ is Lord; If he did not see the cities praying to Christ and offering gifts to him, of whom he was told, "To him will they bow before the daughters tired of gifts;" If even the rich did not lay down their pride and did not supplicate the help of the Church, to which it was said, "All the rich people will supplant your face"; If he did not recognize the daughter of the king, to whom he was commanded to say, "Our Father, who are in heaven" 9; And if the one of whom was said, "All the glory of the king's daughter is inside," he would not renew from day to day in intimate 10 through his saints, though he also struck the eyes of strangers with the Fame of his preachers, expressed in different languages, comparable to the golden fringes of a dress of various colors; If, after his good perfume, made him famous in every place, young virgins would not be led to Christ to be consecrated to Him, to whom it is said: "The virgins, to his followers shall be led to the king, to you shall be his companions"; And, in order not to appear to be imprisoned in a prison, he says, "They will be led into joy and exultation, they will be led into the temple of the king"; If she did not give birth to children, from whom to have as fathers, to make her rulers everywhere, to whom she said, "In the place of your fathers your children are born, you will make them leaders of all the earth;" She, mother, sovereign and subordinate, who confides in their prayers, for which she was added, "They will remember your name, from generation to generation;" If, in the preaching of these fathers, in which his name was remembered without interruption, such great multitudes did not gather in it, and never cease to praise, each in his tongue, to the glory of those to whom it is said: "Therefore The peoples will give you praise forever, for centuries.".

The things you see have been predestined a long time ago and have been done with so much clarity. It will also be for future ones.
If these things did not prove so obvious that the eyes of the unbelievers do not find in which side to turn to avoid being hit and to be forced to admit it obviously, then perhaps rightfully you might say that you are not shown any sort of clues, Since you can believe those things you do not see. But since the things you see have been predestined a long time ago and have been done with such clarity and truth itself is shown to you both with its antecedent effects and with those that have been followed, because you believe what you do not see, if That does not happen, you have to be ashamed.

"Look at me," says the Church; "Look at me, you see, even though you do not want to see." In fact, those who were faithful in those days in the land of Judea learned directly from their present reality the marvelous birth of a virgin, passion, resurrection, ascension of Christ, and all divine things from Him Said and done. All this you did not see, and that's why you refuse to believe. Hold on to think of these realities, pay attention to them because they are not told as past events, and are not predicted as events of the future but are shown as reality of the present. Does it seem to you a vain or insignificant thing, and do you think it is not a divine miracle or is it just a matter of fact that, in the name of a crucifix, it lurks all mankind? You have not seen what was predicted and happened to the humanity of Christ: "Here is a virgin conceiving and giving birth to a son"; But see what the Word of God has foretold to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed in your seed." You have not seen what was foretold of the miracles of Christ: "Come and see the works of the Lord, who performed wonders on earth," but see what was foretold: "The Lord said to me, You are my son, I have begun and ask you, and I will give you the inheritance, and the boundaries of the earth as your possession. " You have not seen what was predicted and has come to pass the passion of Christ: "They have passed through my hands and my feet, they have counted all my bones, they have observed and looked upon me, they have divided my garments and have drawn to my tunic," but see what was predicted in the same Psalm, And that now appears to have come true: "They will remember the Lord, and they will return all the boundaries of the earth and worship Him, prostrate before Him all the races of peoples, for the Lord is the kingdom, and He will rule over the Gentiles." You have not seen what was predicted and has come to pass the resurrection of Christ, as the Psalm first tells him about his traitor and then his persecutors: "They went out and all together they sparred by one; all my enemies against. They murmured against me, they pondered the evil against me, and a wicked word against me circulated. " If, to show that nothing was worth killing those who would have risen, he continued, saying, "Who is sleeping cannot possibly get up?" And shortly afterward, having prophesied by the same prophecy of his own traitor what is also written in the Gospel: "Whoever ate my bread, lifted up my heel," that is, he stepped on me, immediately added, "But you O Lord, have mercy on me, and resurrect me, and I will repay them. " This has come to pass: Christ slept and awakened, or resurrected; He who, in the same prophecy, but in another Psalm, says, "I slept and I have been sleepy, and I have risen, for the Lord will sustain me." True, all this you have not seen, but you see his Church, of which it was said in a similar way and has come true: O Lord my God, to you people will come from the end of the earth and say: "Truly Our fathers worshiped idols, but they are of no use. " Certainly you find this, whether you want it or you do not want it, and if you still think the idols are or have been of some utility, nevertheless, surely you have heard that countless peoples after abandoning, refusing or Destroyed such vanities, they say, "Truly our fathers worshiped idols, but they are of no use: if man can make his gods, behold, they are not gods." And since it was said, "To you the people will come from the ends of the earth," do not believe that the predestined people would come to some place of God: understand, if it succeeds, that the God of Christians, who is supreme and True God, the ranks of peoples are not walking but believing. The same thing was foretold by another prophet: "The Lord will prevail over them and cut off all the gods of the peoples of the earth, and all the islands of the earth will worship him, each in his place." As he says, "All nations will come to you," he says, "They will worship him, each in his place." So they will come to Him without leaving their place, for whoever believes in Him will find Him in His heart. You have not seen what was predicted and has come to pass the ascension of Christ: "Bend down, O God, upon the heavens," but see what is coming forth soon: "And on all the earth be thy glory." All that has happened and passed over to Christ, you have not seen it, but these things, which are present in your Church, you cannot say not to see them. We and the others we show them as pre-announced, but we cannot show them how it happened and that we can see because we are not able to bring things back to our eyes.

So much the past and present things we hear or read them before they happen.
But, as with the clues we see, we believe in the will of friends who are not seen, so the Church, which is now seen, of all those things that are not seen but are shown in those it writings in which itself is preannounced, It is a sign of the past, the prophecy of the future ones. Because of the past things that can no longer be seen, than the present things, that you cannot see all, you could not see anything when they were announced. When, then, the things that are being predicted have begun to happen, from what has already happened to these things happening, all the foregoing things concerning Christ and the Church have followed in an orderly series. This series includes those on the day of judgment, the resurrection of the dead, the eternal damnation of the wicked with the devil, and the eternal reward of the righteous with Christ, things which, as they have preached, will happen. Therefore, we should not believe the past and future things we do not see when we as witnesses of one and the other present things we see and when, in the prophets' books, both past and present we hear or do we read them pre-announced before they happen? Unless by chance the infidels do not believe that they have been written by Christians so that these things, which they already believed, had a more authoritative weight, believing that they had been promised before they happened.

The Jews in the scriptures are our supporters, in the hearts of enemies, in witness books.
If the unbelievers have this suspicion, it would be appropriate to examine the books of the Jews who, while our enemies, as far as the scriptures are concerned, bear witness to us. They will read all the things we have remembered and find that they have been preached about Christ, in whom we believe, and the Church, which we see from the tiring beginning of faith to the everlasting bliss of the kingdom. But when they read, do not marvel at whether those who hold these books do not understand such things because of the darkness of enmity. That they would not understand, in fact, had been foretold by the same prophets; And therefore, it was necessary that this, like everything else, should happen and that, according to a secret but just judgment of God, they should have deserved it. It is true that the one who crucified and whom they gave bitterness and vinegar, though he hung by the wood, he would say to the Father for those who would lead from darkness to light: "Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing;" However, for others who, for more occult reasons, would have abandoned, by the mouth of the prophet, so long ago he predicted: "They have thrown into my food, and when I thirsty have made me drink vinegar, their meal becomes for them a trap, as a reward and as a cause of scandal. Let their eyes loose, so that they cannot see, and bend forever is the their back". So, though their eyes are blurred, they go to all parts of the world with the most illustrious testimonies of our cause, so that through them, these things are confirmed in which they are denied. This was done to prevent them from being destroyed and that the same sect would not remain anything; but it was dispersed for the world so that, by carrying the prophecies of grace reserved to us, there was any help to convince the infidels more firmly. And this is what I say, as the prophet has announced: "Do not kill them" - he says - "because they do not have a day to forget your law, disperse with your power." So they were not killed because they did not forget those things that were read and heard by them. If in fact, even without understanding them, completely forget the Scriptures, they would be killed in the same Jewish rite, because, knowing nothing of the laws and prophets, the Jews would have been of no use. They, therefore, were not slain but dispersed, so that even though they did not have the faith to save them, they would nevertheless keep the memory from which the aid comes: in the scriptures they are supporters, in the hearts of our enemies, in the testimony books.

The Church has spread wonderfully throughout the world.
Moreover, although there have not been so many previous testimonies about Christ and the Church, who should not feel inclined to believe that divine clarity suddenly began to shine for mankind when we see that abandoned the false and Destroy their statues everywhere, demolish temples, or destine to other uses and extirpate so many vain rituals from the well-rooted human custom, is only true God be invoked by all? And all this happened through a man who was laughed at by men, captured, tied, scourged, slapped, scorned, crucified, killed. In order to spread his teaching, he chose as simple and inexperienced men disciples, fishermen and publicans: they proclaimed his resurrection and ascension, claiming to have seen it, and filled with the Holy Spirit made this message resound in all languages, even without them learned. And among those who listened to them some believed, others did not believe, fiercely opposing their preaching. In this way, in the presence of believers able to fight for the truth to death, not to counteract the evils but to endure them, and to win not with the killing but with the dying, the world has so changed in this religion, The hearts of mortals, men and women, small and great, learned and ignorant, wise and foolish, powerful and weak, noble, of high rank and humble, have so well converted to this Gospel and the Church spread among All the people, and grew so that against the same Catholic faith, there is no evidence of any perverted sect, any kind of error that is so hostile to the Christian truth that it is not to aspire and to glorify the name of Christ. Certainly, this error would not be allowed to spread on earth if the same opposition did not serve as a stimulus for sound discipline. That crucifix how could he have accomplished such great things, had he not been a man? And all this, though he had not predicted through any of the Prophets any of these future things. But since such a great mystery of love has been preceded by his prophets and heralds, from whose divine voices he was preached, and it happened as was preached, who would be so crazy to say that the Apostles lied to Christ when they announced the coming as was foreseen by the prophets, who did not even silence the events that would really have happened with the Apostles? In fact, they had said: "There is no idiom and there is no talk in which their voice is not heard, their words spread throughout the earth and to the ends of the world." 31 This certainly We see it all over the world, even though we have not yet seen Christ in flesh. Who, then, unless it is blinded by a strange madness or is not hard and inflexible for a singular stubbornness, will refuse to believe in the Sacred Scriptures, who foretold the faith of the whole world?

Exhortation to nourish and increase faith.
As for you, oh dear ones, this faith you have or that you have begun to have recently, feeds and grows in you. As in fact the predetermined temporal events have occurred so long ago, so will the promises also happen. Do not deceive the pagan neighbors, the false Jews, the deceptive heretics, nor even the Catholic Church itself, the bad Christians, who are enemies much more harmful than intimate. Because even on this point, in order not to leave the weak in disturbance, divine prophecy is silent, whereas in the Song of Songs, the groom speaking to the bride, that is Christ the Lord to the Church, says: "Like a lily in the midst of the thorns, My beloved among the daughters. " He did not say in the midst of the strangers, but in the midst of the sons: whoever has ears to understand, intend. And, when the net thrown into the sea and full of fish of all kinds, as the Holy Gospel says, is shore, that is, at the end of the world, it separates itself from bad fish with the heart not with the body, that is by changing the bad Customs and not breaking the holy networks. So that the righteous, who now seem to be mixed with reprobates, do not receive a punishment but an eternal life, when the separation begins on the beach.

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