Church Fathers, Day Sixty-Six: St. Augustine says recognize the good emotions

Church Fathers, Day Sixty-Six: St. Augustine says recognize the good emotions September 25, 2014

augustineRecognize the good emotions

A good Christian is not insensibly tranquil, says St. Augustine. Even in heaven, we will know joy and love; here on earth, we also know sadness and compas­sion. To be without those emotions would be to be less than human.

Since we must live a good life in order to gain a blessed life, a good life gets all the emotions right, and a bad life gets them wrong. But in the blessed life eternal there will be love and joy—not only right, but assured— but no fear and grief.

From this we can already see a little of what kind of people the citizens of the city of God must be in this pilgrimage of theirs—the citizens who live after the spirit, not after the flesh: that is, according to God, not according to Man—and what kind of people they must be in the immortality toward which they are headed.

Wicked emotions, as if they were diseases or riots, shake the city or society of the wicked—the people who live, not according to God, but according to man, and who accept the doctrines of men or devils in worshiping a false divinity and despising the true divinity. And if some of the citizens of that city seem to restrain and temper those passions, so to speak, they are so puffed up with ungodly pride that their disease is as much greater as their pain is less. Some, with a vanity as monstrous as it is rare, are proud of themselves because no emotion will stimulate or excite them, no affection move or bend them. But people like that have actually lost all their humanity, rather than gained true peace. A thing is not necessarily right because it is inflexible, or healthy because it feels nothing.

St. Augustine, City of God, 14.9


Which of the emotions I’ve felt today came from Christian love?

Which ones came from selfishness and pride?


Lord, you are the God of peace, mercy, love, and compassion. Send your rich mercy down on me, and teach me not to forget the poor and all who are in need.


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