Friday, September 17, 2010


I have a strong hunch that St Augustine would have played well on television—if we were talking about the 1950s, the same time-frame as Bishop Sheen or Billy Graham in their hey-day. Today? Not so much, I don’t think. He (and they) would be swimming too much against the current of the wave of what is known as the “Gospel of Prosperity.” Today the theme of much televangelism is the doctrine that God wants us to be wealthy and well-off, and if we have the right kind of faith this will be the result.

In his long sermon On Pastors, though, St Augustine strikes a different note. The excerpt in today’s (Friday of the 24th Week of the liturgical year) Office of Readings from the Breviary includes these potent words:

The negligent shepherd fails to say to the believer: My son, come to the service of God, stand fast in fear and in righteousness, and prepare your soul for temptation. …Such a believer [who is prepared in this way] will not then hope for the prosperity of this world. For if he has been taught to hope for worldly gain, he will be corrupted by prosperity. When adversity comes, he will be wounded or perhaps destroyed.
The builder who builds in such manner is not building the believer on a rock but upon sand. But the rock was Christ. Christians must imitate Christ’s sufferings, not set their hearts on pleasures.
…What sort of shepherds are they who for fear of giving offense not only fail to prepare the sheep for the temptations that threaten, but even promise them worldly happiness? God himself made no such promise to this world. On the contrary, God foretold hardship….
For the Apostle says: All who desire to live a holy life in Christ will suffer persecution.

So: should St Augustine be on television? Probably! But I don’t think he’d get the ratings or the commercial endorsements. Thanks be to God, that is not what he was looking for. I hope it is not what we are looking for, either: let’s look for nothing other than to be faithful fellow cross-carriers with the Lord.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps He can't be on television, but his insights, thoughts, teachings, etc, would make for a great TV show. (Not claiming to know his works), only what you have shared, and little other that I have read.