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Words of Wisdom

Pathway to Salvation: From “The City of God” by Saint Augustine of Hippo (vegetarian), Part 1 of 2

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Saint Augustine of Hippo was an esteemed late 4th and early 5th century Christian bishop in present-day Algeria. Known as one of the greatest Christian philosophers, St. Augustine was a prolific writer, and composed about 100 books, 300 letters and 500 sermons on a wide range of subjects from theology and philosophy to sociology, and has had a lasting influence on the Christian world. The respected bishop was also a compassionate vegetarian, and drew attention to the lifestyle of those who “not only abstain from flesh and wine, but also from other viands. … which flatter taste.”

Today, we will present excerpts from Saint Augustine’s “The City of God,” which expounds the importance of living a morally upright lifestyle and keeping the Lord’s teachings always close to one’s heart, as a key to salvation.

“We shall then ascertain who it is who can be saved by fire, if we first discover what it is to have Christ for a foundation. And this we may very readily learn from the image itself. In a building the foundation is first. Whoever, then, has Christ in his heart, so that no earthly or temporal things, not even those that are legitimate and allowed, are preferred to Him, has Christ as a foundation.”

“And if they for one crime have distributed all their goods to Christ’s needy members, that could profit them nothing unless they desisted from all similar actions, and attained charity which works no evil. He therefore who does alms-deeds proportioned to his sins must first begin with himself. For it is not reasonable that a man who exercises charity towards his neighbor should not do so towards himself, since he hears the Lord saying, ‘Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself,’ and again, ‘Have compassion on thy soul, and please God.’”

“We ought therefore to do alms that we may be heard when we pray that our past sins may be forgiven, not that while we continue in them, we may think to provide ourselves with a license for wickedness by alms-deeds.”
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