FEAST OF ST. AGUSTINE OF HIPPO- SELICHOT
24 Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; 25so out of FEAR I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’
Christ is always trying to draw us away from fear to having a relationship of love and peace with the Trinity. For if we live our faith in fear, we will be like the person who buried his only talent. We must if we are filled with the love and joy of Christ go forth bravely to build Christ’s Kingdom in our own spheres of influence and in our way of being.
Ask our Lord how he wants you to spend your time assisting our priests today.
Boldness and Passion
· Holiness is also parrhesia: it is boldness, an impulse to evangelize and to leave a mark in this world. To allow us to do this, Jesus himself comes and tells us once more, serenely yet firmly: “Do not be afraid”. “I am with you always, to the end of the world”. These words enable us to go forth and serve with the same courage that the Holy Spirit stirred up in the Apostles, impelling them to proclaim Jesus Christ. Boldness, enthusiasm, the freedom to speak out, apostolic fervor, all these are included in the word parrhesia. The Bible also uses this word to describe the freedom of a life open to God and to others. Blessed Paul VI, in referring to obstacles to evangelization, spoke of a lack of fervor (parrhesia) that is “all the more serious because it comes from within”. How often we are tempted to keep close to the shore!
· Yet the Lord calls us to put out into the deep and let down our nets. He bids us spend our lives in his service. Clinging to him, we are inspired to put all our charisms at the service of others. May we always feel compelled by his love and say with Saint Paul: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel”. Look at Jesus. His deep compassion reached out to others. It did not make him hesitant, timid or self-conscious, as often happens with us. Quite the opposite. His compassion made him go out actively to preach and to send others on a mission of healing and liberation. Let us acknowledge our weakness, but allow Jesus to lay hold of it and send us too on mission. We are weak, yet we hold a treasure that can enlarge us and make those who receive it better and happier.
· Boldness and apostolic courage are an essential part of mission. Parrhesia is a seal of the Spirit; it testifies to the authenticity of our preaching. It is a joyful assurance that leads us to glory in the Gospel we proclaim. It is an unshakeable trust in the faithful Witness who gives us the certainty that nothing can “separate us from the love of God”. We need the Spirit’s prompting, lest we be paralyzed by fear and excessive caution, lest we grow used to keeping within safe bounds.
· Let us remember that closed spaces grow musty and unhealthy. When the Apostles were tempted to let themselves be crippled by danger and threats, they joined in prayer to implore parrhesia: “And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness”. As a result, “when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness”.
· Like the prophet Jonah, we are constantly tempted to flee to a safe haven. It can have many names: individualism, spiritualism, living in a little world, addiction, intransigence, the rejection of new ideas and approaches, dogmatism, nostalgia, pessimism, hiding behind rules and regulations. We can resist leaving behind a familiar and easy way of doing things. Yet the challenges involved can be like the storm, the whale, the worm that dried the gourd plant, or the wind and sun that burned Jonah’s head. For us, as for him, they can serve to bring us back to the God of tenderness, who invites us to set out ever anew on our journey.
· God is eternal newness. He impels us constantly to set out anew, to pass beyond what is familiar, to the fringes and beyond. He takes us to where humanity is most wounded, where men and women, beneath the appearance of a shallow conformity, continue to seek an answer to the question of life’s meaning. God is not afraid! He is fearless! He is always greater than our plans and schemes. Unafraid of the fringes, he himself became a fringe. So, if we dare to go to the fringes, we will find him there; indeed, he is already there. Jesus is already there, in the hearts of our brothers and sisters, in their wounded flesh, in their troubles and in their profound desolation. He is already there.
Feast of St. Augustine of Hippo
St. Augustine (354-430) was born at Tagaste, Africa, and died in Hippo. His father, Patricius, was a pagan, his mother, Monica, a devout Christian. He received a good Christian education. As a law student in Carthage, however, he gave himself to all kinds of excesses and finally joined the Manichean sect. He then taught rhetoric at Milan where he was converted by St. Ambrose. Returning to Tagaste, he distributed his goods to the poor, and was ordained a priest. He was made bishop of Hippo at the age of 41 and became a great luminary of the African Church, one of the four great founders of religious orders, and a Doctor of the universal Church.
"Though I am but dust and ashes, suffer me to utter my plea to Thy mercy; suffer me to speak, since it is to God's mercy that I speak and not to man's scorn. From Thee too I might have scorn, but Thou wilt return and have compassion on me. ... I only know that the gifts Thy mercy had provided sustained me from the first moment. ... All my hope is naught save in Thy great mercy. Grant what Thou dost command, and command what Thou wilt" (St. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, 6, 19).
As a young man, Augustine prepared for a career as a teacher of Rhetoric and subsequently taught in Carthage and Rome. Unfortunately, despite having a saint for a mother, as his career progressed, he wandered far from his Christian upbringing, and his life sank into an abyss of pride and lust. Like many young pagan men of his time, he lived with a mistress and conceived a child with her out of wedlock. However, the Lord did not want to lose hold of this lost sheep altogether: thus, inspired by the writings of the Roman philosopher Cicero (and, no doubt, prompted by the Holy Spirit), Augustine began what would prove to be a lifelong search for wisdom. This search took him first to the religious cult called the "Manichees," a strange sect that believed the material world is the product of the powers of "darkness," while the spiritual realm is the realm of "light." After becoming disillusioned with the bizarre theories of the Manichees, Augustine adopted the philosophy of the Neo-Platonists. This was a school of philosophy centered on the writings of the ancient philosopher Plotinus, who described the mystical journey that all people ought to undertake as "the flight of the alone to the Alone," in other words, as a mystical, solitary search for the ineffable Source of all things. In 386, Augustine moved to Milan to a new teaching post, and there, by divine providence, he encountered the preaching of the archbishop of the city, the great theologian St. Ambrose. As a result of the example and preaching of this great saint, as well as the prayers and tears of his saintly mother, Augustine was quickly plunged into a profound inner struggle, wrestling with his sins of the flesh and with temptations to intellectual pride. The turning point of this struggle came in the summer of 386 when Augustine was sitting in a garden, recollecting his past life and gazing into the depths of his own soul. He describes what happened next in his autobiographical Confessions (written in 397):
Such things I said, weeping in the most
bitter sorrow of my heart. And suddenly, I heard a voice from some nearby
house, a boy's voice or a girl's voice, I do not know but it was a sort of
sing-song repeated again and again, "Take and read, take and read." I
ceased weeping and immediately began to search my mind most carefully as to
whether children were accustomed to chant these words in any kind of game, and
I could not remember that I had ever heard any such thing. Damming back the
flood of my tears I arose, interpreting the incident as quite certainly a
divine command to open my book of Scripture and read the passage at which I
should open. ... I snatched it up, opened it, and in silence read the passage
upon which my eyes first fell: "Not
in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention
and envy, but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the
flesh in its concupiscence’s" (Rom 13:13). I had no wish to read
further, and no need. For in that instant, with the very ending of the
sentence, it was as though a light of utter confidence shone in my heart, and
all the darkness of uncertainty vanished away.
Then we [Augustine and his friend Alypius] went in to my mother and told her, to her great joy. We related how it had come about: she was filled with triumphant exultation and praised You who are mighty beyond what we ask or conceive: for she saw that You had given her more than with all her pitiful weeping she had ever asked. For You converted me to Yourself ... (Confessions, 8.11-12).
A prayer by St. Augustine
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, That I love but what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, That I always may be holy. Amen.
Things to Do:
- Read more about St. Augustine at CatholicIreland.net and at CatholicSaints.Info
- Go here for links to the writings of St. Augustine
- Also learn more here, St. Augustine of Hippo
- See St Augustine, the Holy Trinity, the Child and the SeaShell
- Visit Anastpaul for more info including many images
Selichot (Hebrew: סליחות) means 'sorry/forgiveness prayers'. Selichot are recited from the Sunday before the Jewish New Year until the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). Selichot are aimed for both the individual and communities to atone their sins between man and God. They are intended for Jews to reflect on their actions of the past year and to refrain from committing the same sins in the next New Year.
· For many Orthodox Jews, Selichot prayers are added to the daily cycle of religious services. Selichot are recited before normal daily shacharit (morning prayers) service. They add about 45 minutes to the regular daily service in a typical service.
· A fundamental part of selichot service is the repeated recitation of the Thirteen Attributes, a list of God's thirteen attributes of mercy that were revealed to Moses after the sin of the golden calf (Ex 34:6-7): Ha-shem , Ha-shem , God , merciful , and gracious , long-suffering , abundant in goodness  and truth , keeping mercy unto the thousandth generation , forgiving iniquity  and transgression  and sin , who cleanses .
· This is the season to begin the process of asking forgiveness for wrongs done to other people. According to Jewish tradition, God cannot forgive us for sins committed against another person until we have first obtained forgiveness from the person we have wronged.
· Many of the Selichot prayers are in the form of a main Selichah (forgiveness) prayer and a Pizmon (chorus), which is repeated after each changing Selichah prayer. Some of these Selichot have cantorial music for the Selichah and a repeating tune for the chorus.
Selichot Top Events and Things to Do
· Consider your position in life and ask God for forgiveness. Use this time to reset your daily habits and think how to change them to the better.
· Use this period of time to forgive others and as well as ask others for forgiveness. This is often most difficult to do between life partners, parents and children.
· Many people visit cemeteries at this time, because the awe-inspiring nature of this time makes us reflect on our own life, death, and mortality. Consider visiting the graves of your ancestors, soldiers, or anyone who may have made a positive impact on society.
· Attend to a Selichot prayer ceremony or watch one on YouTube. A popular Selichot rendition is by Yitzchak Meir Helfgot.
Preaching God's Forgiveness
Much has been written about the great challenges the Church faces in contemporary culture. The great modern "isms" confront a us daily—relativism, individualism, and consumerism, to name a few.
· ″Relativism holds that absolute truth and enduring values are illusory.
· ″Individualism gives "strong emphasis [to] the individual and individual choice, which often eclipses the sense of community or of the common good."
· ″Consumerism puts "focus on material satisfaction to the detriment of spiritual values".
Given this cultural climate, it is hardly surprising that there is a lack of a sense of sin and a dropping rate of participation in Church life. In fact, the heart of every person in Christ must be about the heart of Jesus Christ, and the central mystery of his life, the Paschal Mystery: "The person and mission of Jesus, culminated in his Death and Resurrection, this is ultimately the central content of all the Scriptures". People of God can understand their own lives properly and be able to see their own experience in the light of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus". In a culture often dominated by relativism, individualism, and consumerism, the proclamation of the salvation of Christ is truly Good News. It allows people to see there is another way; it paves the way for conversion; it brings hope. God can open up a space in the human heart, a space that he alone can fill. Christ is about calling persons back to fruitful participation in the Sacrament of Penance, especially if it has been years since their last confession.