Guide for the Journey

St. Augustine of Hippo

Sing Alleluia, Praise the Lord!

April 2012
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St. Augustine (354-430) was baptized a Christian in 387, became bishop of Hippo in 396, and was declared a doctor of the Church in 1298. His intelligence and pastoral concern, seen in his writings, shaped the thought of Western Christianity. This excerpt from a discourse on the psalms encourages us to rejoice this Easter season.

Our thoughts in this present life should turn to praising God, because it is in praising God that we shall rejoice for ever in the life to come; and we can not be ready for the next life unless we train ourselves for it now.

So we praise God during our earthly life, and at the same time make our petitions to him. Our praise is expressed with joy, our petitions with yearning. We have been promised something we do not yet possess, and we trust in the word of God and are glad; but until then we long and yearn for it. It is good for us to persevere in longing until we receive what was promised and yearning is over; then praise alone will remain.

Celebrate our future life
Because there are these two periods of time—this earthly life, beset with trials and troubles, and the other yet to come, a life of everlasting serenity and joy—we are given two liturgical seasons, one before Easter and the other after.

The season before Easter signifies the troubles of our lives here and now, while the time after Easter signifies the future happiness that will be ours. What we commemorate before Easter is what we experience in this life; what we celebrate now, after Easter, points to something we do not yet possess.

This is why we keep the first season with fasting and prayer; but now the fast is over, and we devote the present season to praise. Such is the meaning of the Alleluia we sing.

Both these periods are represented and demonstrated for us in Christ. The Lord’s passion depicts for us our present life of trial—shows how we must suffer and be afflicted and finally die. The Lord’s resurrection and glorification show us the life that will be given to us in the future.

May your actions praise God
Now, brethren, we urge you to praise God. That is what we are all telling each other when we say Alleluia. You say to your neighbors, “Praise the Lord!” and they say the same to you. We are all urging one another to praise the Lord, and all thereby doing what each of us urges the other to do! But see that your praise comes from your whole being; see that you praise God not with your lips and voices alone, but with your minds, your lives, and all your actions.

We praise God as we are assembled in church; but when we go on our various ways again, it seems as if we cease to praise God. But provided we do not cease to live a good life, we shall always be praising God.

You cease to praise God only when you swerve from justice and from what is pleasing to God. If you never turn aside from the good life, your tongue may be silent but your actions will cry aloud, and God will perceive your intentions; for as our ears hear each other’s voices, so do God’s ears hear our thoughts.

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