Thursday, June 15, 2017

Synaxarion of Saint Augustine of Hippo

St. Augustine of Hippo (Feast Day - June 15)

Commemoration of our Holy Father Augustine, Bishop of Hippo

By St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite

Verses

Aflame with eros for God, O Augustine,
You proved to be an all-radiant luminary, O Blessed one.

The divine and sacred Augustine, who was also called Aurelius, was born in Thagaste of Carthage (present Tunisia) in Numidia, and flourished during the reign of Emperor Theodosius the Great (379-395), as well as during the reigns of Arcadius (383-408) and Honorius (395-408) his sons, until he was an elder of eighty years.* Having studied the Greek language,** he was more eager to learn Latin. Wherefore he became experienced in philosophy, as well as rhetoric and dialectics, so that people at that time would commonly bring to their lips the following prayer: "Deliver us O God from the dialectics of Augustine," as Gennadios Scholarios testifies in his discourse "On the Procession of the Holy Spirit".

When he became a thirty year old young man, not only was he set aflame with the fiery passions of the flesh, but he also had a son through a concubine*** named Adeodatus, and he was a Manichean for nine years. He then went to Rome and Milan in order to teach rhetoric there, and having met Saint Ambrose, he was liberated of his errors by his teachings, and baptized by him, together with his son. Having repented of his practices, he richly received from God the gift of contrition, so that it would have been easier to stop the stream of a fountain rather than stop his ever-flowing tears, by which the thrice-blessed one was made worthy to receive divine radiance and illumination, and be adorned with the gift of theology bounteously and plentifully.

He was also ordained Bishop of Hippo in Carthage, and was present at the Synod of Carthage. And let us simply say, that he is a great Teacher and Theologian that has been manifested in the Church of Christ, having left behind many writings, but they are only written in Latin, which truthfully is worthy of much sadness for us, namely the Greeks, to be deprived of such spiritual wealth. Only a few of his writings have been translated into Greek. These are the fifteen Books (namely discourses) on the Trinity divided, which were translated by Maximus Planudes encompassed in one volume, and has been preserved in the Athonite Sacred and Imperial Monastery of Vatopaidi (O that a lover of Christ were found to publish it); and the now published "Kekragarion",**** which encompasses the Meditations, Soliloquies, the handbook on the vision of Christ, and on the contrition of the heart, which were translated by lord Eugenios. Actually the Soliloquies were first translated by Demetrios Kydones, and were published in the newly-copied compilation of prayers, together with the handbook on the vision of Christ, which was also translated and published. Because, according to Dositheos, the writings of this sacred Augustine were corrupted by heretics, for this reason the Eastern Orthodox do not accept them as they are or happen to be, but only whatever is agreeable with the common opinion of the Catholic Church. Having therefore grown ill, and saddened over the fall of Africa to the Arian Vandals, who set Hippo on fire, and altogether found in prayer, he delivered his spirit in peace to God.

Notes:

* If this age refers to Augustine, he actually lived about 75 years, having been born on November 13, 354 and died on August 28, 430.

** In actuality, Augustine had a very limited knowledge of Greek, which he regretted.

*** Augustine was in a relationship with this woman from the age of 19 till he was 30.

**** The "Kekgragarion" is more popularly known in the West as the "Meditations of Saint Augustine". The "Meditations of Saint Augustine" were immensely popular during the middle ages and seem to have provided food for the prayer of many generations of Christians in the West, and especially of many monks and nuns. However, the meditations presented in this book are not the work of Saint Augustine of Hippo, but were merely inspired by his writings and thought. It was later translated into modern Greek and put into verse by St. Nektarios of Aegina. This book, since it was first translated by Eugenios Voulgaris, was the only book available to the public in Greek written by St. Augustine until the 20th century, and it was because of this book that Augustine was so highly praised by Greek Orthodox before the 20th century, even though he did not write the book.


Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Thou didst prove to be a radiant vessel of the Divine Spirit and an expounder of the City of God, O Blessed Augustine; and thou didst minister piously unto the Savior, as a wise and God-inspired Hierarch. O Holy Father, entreat Christ God that He grant us great mercy.

Kontakion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Having acquired the radiance of wisdom, thou didst prove to be a Divine instrument of piety, O Hierarch Augustine, thou favorite of Christ. As an initiate of godly love, raise up on the wings of Divine longing us who cry unto thee: Rejoice, O God-inspired Father.

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