Reading again through Saint Augustine’s “Confessions”: Day 29 (Representational Hermeneutics: The Spiritual Truths Revealed in the Created Order)

Reading again through Saint Augustine’s “Confessions”: Day 29 (Representational Hermeneutics: The Spiritual Truths Revealed in the Created Order)

“I have also considered what spiritual truths you intended to be expressed by the order in which the world was created and the order in which the creation is described. I have seen that while each single one of your works is good, collectively they are very good, and that heaven and earth, which represent the Head and the body of the Church, were predestined in your Word, that is, in your only begotten Son, before all time began, when there was no morning and no evening.

But then you began to enact in time all that you had predestined in eternity, for it was your purpose to reveal what had been hidden and to introduce order where disorder reigned. For we were overwhelmed by our sins; we had fallen away from you into the depths of darkness, and your good Spirit was moving over us, ready to bring help when the time was due. You made just men of sinners and set them apart from the wicked; you established the authority of your Book between those above, who would be obedient to you, and those beneath, who would be made subject to them; and you gathered all the faithless together into one body, so that the earnest devotion of the faithful might be clearly seen and they might bear you fruit in works of mercy, by distributing their worldly wealth to the poor in order to acquire heavenly riches for themselves. Next you set special light to burn the firmament. These were your saints, who are possessed of the word that gives life. In them these shines the sublimed authority that is conferred upon them by their spiritual gifts.

After this, from corporeal matter, you produced sacraments, miracles that men could see, and voices to carry your message according to the firmament of your Book. These were meant for the initiation of unbelievers and also for the blessing of the faithful. Next you formed the living soul of the faithful, the soul that lives because it has learnt to control its passions by unremitting continence. Then you took man’s mind, which is subject to none but you and needs to imitate no human authority and renewed it in your own image and likeness. You made rational action subject to the rule of the intellect, as woman is subject to man, and since your ministers are needed for the perfection of the faithful in this life, you willed that the faithful, by providing them with what they need for temporary use, should good works that would bear fruit in the future life.

All these works of yours we see. We see that together they are very good, because it is you who see them in us and it was you who gave us the Spirit by which we see them and love you in them.”

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