The first step in the interpretation of Scripture, says Augustine, is to be moved by the holy fear of God, by which we seek to do his will. Fear of God reminds us that we are mortal and thereby curtails our foolish pride.

The second step is to attain piety. Piety makes us meek readers of Scripture. Otherwise we tend to defend our vices against Scripture’s condemnation or to place ourselves above Scripture in other ways. To learn from Scripture, we must be docile to God speaking through it.

The third step in the interpretation of Scripture consists in knowledge. The reader of Scripture comes to know that we must love God for his own sake, and we must love our neighbor and ourselves in reference to God. This knowledge challenges us to realize that our loves have not been well ordered; we have loved creatures to the contempt of the Creator. In fear of God and piety, the interpreter of Scripture must begin, therefore, by lamenting his sins.

The fourth step is to gain fortitude. Such fortitude enables us to seek justice and extract ourselves from the love of the world, so as to learn to love eternal things—the Trinity—as we should.

The fifth step is mercy. Loving our neighbor purifies our minds and hearts so that we can love the Trinity.

When we love our enemy, we have arrived at the sixth step, purity of heart. This step involves dying to the world, so that our joy comes from the light of the Trinity and we do not allow the desire to please others and avoid adversity to cause us to turn from the truth that challenges us.

The seventh and final step in the interpretation of Scripture is the peace of wisdom.

Matthew Levering, The Theology of Augustine: An Introductory Guide to His Most Important Works (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013), pages 9–10.
(Note: Professor Levering is writing here about St. Augustine’s book “On Christine Doctrine”.)

There is a mutual inter-causality between deep conversion and deep prayer. They are not merely juxtaposed, one next to the other. Each one helps to bring about the other. The more we are rid of our egocentrisms the more we are opened to the divine infusions of love and intimacy. As Saint Paul puts it, we are transformed from one depth of beauty to another, a gift of the indwelling Spirit (2 Cor 3:18). In the other direction a progressively deepening of prayer furthers our purification from venial sins.

Fr. Thomas Dubay, Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), Page 64.

I recently celebrated my birthday, and received a great gift: a “Rugged Rosary”.

I can review this by saying both what it is not as well as what it is. As a Rosary, it is not a piece of jewelry. It is made with parachute cord, it is strong, durable and perfect gift for the man (or woman) who wants to bring a Rosary out into the world. I do not intend to be sexist by what I am about to write, but some men do not want to be seen with a piece of jewelery (the typical Rosary). This Rosary can go anywhere, praying while hiking a rough trail, while riding the subway. It is a durable tool meant to help anyone pray the Rosary anywhere and at any time.  The company makes full size and well as “pocket” size ones like this.  They can also do custom orders, and the prices are reasonable for a hand made item.

I have mine hanging from the rear-view mirror of my car. For me it is a subtle, yet visible method of evangelism. I am a Christian and a Catholic, and I pray.

The company website:

On the one hand, we do not want to die; above all, those who love us do not want us to die. Yet on the other hand, neither do we want to continue living indefinitely, nor was the earth created with that in view. So what do we really want? Our paradoxical attitude gives rise to a deeper question: What in fact is “life”? And what does “eternity” really mean? There are moments when it suddenly seems clear to us: yes, this is what true “life” is—this is what it should be like. Besides, what we call “life” in our everyday language is not real “life” at all. Saint Augustine, in the extended letter on prayer which he addressed to Proba, a wealthy Roman widow and mother of three consuls, once wrote this: ultimately we want only one thing—”the blessed life”, the life which is simply life, simply “happiness”. In the final analysis, there is nothing else that we ask for in prayer.

Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi paragraph 11, “Saved by Hope” (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2007).

My comments: If you are praying, what are you praying for? For both St. Augustine, and Pope Benedict XVI the most important thing we can ask for in prayer is eternal life. Nothing else comes close to the importance of our eternal life with God, so pray for it…

The Sermon on the Mount draws a comprehensive portrait of the right way to live. It aims to show us how to be a human being. We could sum up its fundamental insights by saying that man can be understood only in the light of God, and that his life is made righteous only when he lives it in relation to God. But God is not some distant stranger. He shows us his face in Jesus. In what Jesus does and wills, we come to know the mind and will of God himself.

If being human is essentially about relation to God, it is clear that speaking with, and listening to, God is an essential part of it. This is why the Sermon on the Mount also includes a teaching about prayer. The Lord tells us how we are to pray.

Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration. by Pope Benedict XVI, 2007 Image books, page 128.

In our earthly lives God works in us; in eternal life God will rest in us, and we in God—although God is “always working and always at rest.” ( Confessions 13.37.52) Because God never ceases to do good, we exist and share in his life. He is peace, and we are called to share in his peace. But how can we know this peace who is the Triune God? Only, Augustine answers, through the receptivity of passionate prayer (see Matthew 7:7–8).

Matthew Levering, The Theology of Augustine: An Introductory Guide to His Most Important Works (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013), page 110.

My notes: Professor Levering is commenting on St. Augustine’s “Confessions”, book 13, chapter 37, which is at the very end of Confessions. So our coming to know and experience peace can only happen with our receiving peace from God, through our passionate prayer life.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, gift to me your grace,
Fill me with your love.
So that I may be a witness to the world,
Of the love that your Sacred Heart has for the world.


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