St. Augustine’s Easter Vigil Homily: Don’t Be Surprised at the Evil in the Church

An expert from a Easter Vigil sermon given by St. Augustine wherein he gives a forewarning and comfort to the newly illumined so as to not expect perfect members in the Church before the resurrection:

“So listen to me, O you freshly born children of a chaste mother [the Church]… Because you were once darkness, but now light in the Lord, stick close to the children of light; and let me put it quite plainly: stick close to those of the faithful who are good. Because there are, you see, and this is a sad and sorry fact, a number of the faithful who are bad. They are the faithful who are called so, and are not really so. They are the faithful by whom the sacraments of Christ are misused… They perish themselves by living bad lives; while they ruin others by setting them the example of living bad lives. So you, then, dearly beloved, see you don’t join such people. Seek out the good ones, stick close to the good ones, be good ones yourselves.

“π‘«π’π’βœπ’• 𝒃𝒆 π’”π’–π’“π’‘π’“π’Šπ’”π’†π’…, either, at how many bad Christians there are, who fill the church, who communicate at the altar, who loudly praise the bishop or the priest when he preaches about good morals… They can be with us in the Church of this time; but in that Church which will come into being after the resurrection, they will be unable to be gathered in with the saints. The Church of this time, you see, is compared to a threshing-floor, having on it grain mixed with chaff, having bad members mixed with good…

“You older faithful, you listen too to what I’m saying. Any of you who are grain, rejoice with trembling, and π’”π’•π’‚π’š π’˜π’‰π’†π’“π’† π’šπ’π’– 𝒂𝒓𝒆, and don’t leave the threshing-floor. Don’t attempt, on your own judgment, to shake yourselves free, as it were, from the chaff; because if you want to separate yourself now from the chaff, you won’t be able to stay on the threshing-floor. And when that one comes who distinguishes infallibly between grain and chaff, he won’t carry up to the granary anything he doesn’t find on the threshing-floor. So it will be no good at that time for grains to boast about the ears of wheat they come from, if they have left the threshing-floor. That granary will be filled and closed. Anything left outside will be gutted by fire.

“So then, dearly beloved, if you are good, you must put up with the bad… π‘³π’Šπ’”π’•π’†π’ 𝒕𝒐 π’Žπ’†, π’ˆπ’“π’‚π’Šπ’π’”; π’π’Šπ’”π’•π’†π’ 𝒕𝒐 π’Žπ’†, 𝒕𝒉𝒐𝒔𝒆 𝒐𝒇 π’šπ’π’– π’˜π’‰π’ 𝒂𝒓𝒆 π’˜π’‰π’‚π’• 𝑰 π’…π’†π’”π’Šπ’“π’† π’šπ’π’– 𝒕𝒐 𝒃𝒆. π‘«π’π’βœπ’• 𝒍𝒆𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆 π’Žπ’Šπ’™π’•π’–π’“π’† 𝒐𝒇 π’‰π’–π’”π’Œπ’” 𝒅𝒆𝒑𝒓𝒆𝒔𝒔 π’šπ’π’–; π’•π’‰π’†π’š π’˜π’π’βœπ’• 𝒃𝒆 π’˜π’Šπ’•π’‰ π’šπ’π’– 𝒇𝒐𝒓𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓.”

Augustine, Sermon 223, At the Easter Vigil; citation from Augustine: Essential Sermons (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2007), 277-279.

3 thoughts on “St. Augustine’s Easter Vigil Homily: Don’t Be Surprised at the Evil in the Church

  1. St. Augustine of Hipps did have a way with words. Thanks for this edifying post, Erick! Joyous Easter to you and yours!

  2. So, it is interesting to consider the scope of the threshing floor. I struggle mightily these days between Roman Catholicism and Reformed theology. It seems evident that the threshing floor, if it be the place where the elect are to be found, cannot be a single canonical Church. For there are saints in the Roman Church, in the Assyrian Church of the East (St. Isaac and thus presumably those immediately preceding him in terms of sanctity in the ACoE), In the Armenian Church (Gregory of Narek) and the Syriac Church (Jacob of Edessa), to say nothing of those who are Orthodox. And now Rome has allowed many of Archbishop Cranmer’s liturgical innovations to be used in a form of the Roman rite used by the Anglican ordinariate.

    Whence then is the threshing floor? It is not one canonical church. It must be the place of repentance and of faith and of trust. Truly, as the scripture says “But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” Acts 10:53.

    What do all these mentioned above have in common? “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And over them the gates of hell will not prevail-

    “37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

    “39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.”

    Christ will not lose those which come to him, as if he were powerless, for it is the will of his Father, His consequent decretive will (Not antecedent or permissive) that he lose NONE. Therefore, Christ cannot be prevailed upon in any way where that which is handed over to him might be taken from him either by force or accident or circumstance, or in any way that could be construed as “losing.”

    NEITHER will he cast them out- They will not be the objects of either his wrath or his rejection. They will never hear “depart from me ye cursed.”

    Therefore, the sole REAL threshing floor is not any single canonical Church, but the eternal covenant of Redemption between Christ and his Father to save a particular people that they might be his bride. Yes, this is an appeal to the Church, not merely invisible, but eschatological. The final state of the redeemed where they are united in Christ as one people, and the darkness and partialness of knowledge is done away with. That which is foreordained in the mind of God does not occur by way of exception, but in accordance with his predestination, for there is neither error nor passivity nor permissiveness in God’s will, but simply WHAT he wills. And this is will-

    ” And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

    John 6:40.

    His will, which is to fulfill the will of his father, cannot be resisted, thwarted or gainsaid. He will see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied.

    Christ himself is our threshing floor, and nothing else. We will be found in him who have come unto him to love him.

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