Why the name?

"Holy Conversation" does sound like an exceptionally pious name, even for a parish blog. And we can't guarantee that everything here will meet the high standard the name implies. But the phrase comes from the story of our patron saint, and we think it fits. Here's why.

St. Scholastica was a sixth-century abbess who, according to the Dialogues of Pope Gregory I, used to meet once a year with her brother, St. Benedict. On the last occasion they were together, they spent their time "satisfying each other's hunger for holy conversation about the spiritual life."

We hope that this blog can become a place where the members of our parish can find a taste of the companionship and conversation that Scholastica and Benedict enjoyed so much. Welcome!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

St. Augustine of Hippo--August 28

     There are few saints whose lives have been considered from more angles than St. Augustine’s. I was reminded recently of one aspect of Augustine’s legacy—his enormous influence on Christian theology. I’ve been (very slowly) working my way through Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years. (The title’s not a misprint, by the way—MacCulloch begins the story of Christianity with an exploration of Greek culture and of the story of the Jews, both of which are rooted in times long before the appearance of Jesus on the scene.)

      MacCulloch notes that beginning around 1490, the first scholarly edition of St. Augustine’s works was published in Basel. St. Augustine himself had died over a millennium before, but this was a time in which the combination of a new approach to learning (that we call humanism) and the development of printing led to widespread new consideration of ancient texts. In the decades that followed, theologians mined Augustine’s thought. The saint’s writings are so vast in scope, and his thought at times so paradoxical (if not self-contradictory) that the new thinkers tended not to be able to hold together all that Augustine seems to have held together in his own mind.

      MacCulloch quotes B. B. Warfield, a historian of theology: “The Reformation, inwardly considered, was just the ultimate triumph of Augustine’s doctrine of grace over Augustine’s doctrine of the Church.” Martin Luther and the reformers followed the bishop of Hippo’s insistence on God’s grace as the sole font of our salvation; Catholic theologians emphasized the need to be connected to the Church. “From one perspective,” MacCulloch concludes, “a century or more of turmoil in the Western Church from 1517 was a debate in the mind of the long-dead Augustine.”
                                                                             --Andy Bechman

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