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St. Augustine on the Lie of the ‘Golden Age’

I was very much struck by the Office of Readings today.  St. Augustine hits it right on the mark, even for us post-moderns.  I’ll let him speak for himself.

Whenever we suffer some distress or tribulation, there we find warning and correction for ourselves. Our holy scriptures themselves do not promise us peace, security and repose, but tribulations and distress; the gospel is not silent about scandals; but he who perseveres to the end will be saved. What good has this life of ours ever been, from the time of the first man, from when he deserved death and received the curse, that curse from which Christ our Lord delivered us?
  So we must not complain, brothers, as some of them complained, as the apostle says, and perished from the serpents.What fresh sort of suffering, brothers, does the human race now endure that our fathers did not undergo? Or when do we endure the kind of sufferings which we know they endured? Yet you find men complaining about the times they live in, saying that the times of our parents were good. What if they could be taken back to the times of their parents, and should then complain? The past times that you think were good, are good because they are not yours here and now.
  If you have now been delivered from the curse, if you have now believed in the Son of God; if you are now well versed or trained in sacred scripture, I am surprised that you should reckon Adam to have had good times. Your parents carried the burden of Adam as well. Indeed it was Adam who heard the words: In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, and you shall work the ground from which you were taken; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you. He deserved this, he received this, he was given this as the result of God’s just judgement. Why then do you think past times were better than yours? From that Adam to the Adam of today, toil and sweat, thorns and thistles. Have we forgotten the flood? Have we forgotten those burdensome times of famine and wars? They were written about to prevent us complaining of the present time against God.
  What times those were! Do not we all shudder to hear or read of them? So we have rather cause for congratulating ourselves than grounds for complaining about our own times.

Times were better when I was younger, or when our parents were our age is a lie.  Times were different but because sinful man was involved they were never better.  Grass is green on both sides just as some of it has died as turned to dust on both sides.  St. Augustine is inviting us to look at reality instead of fantasizing about the past.  Don’t believe the lie of the ‘Golden Age,’ rather look to the truth that we live redeemed in Christ and live in Him not in fantasy.

About Fr. Kyle

I am a priest of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. I was born and raised right outside New Orleans. I attended Catholic school my entire educational career. By the time I graduated high school, I had two paths to choose: rockstar or priesthood. I pursued both for awhile but eventually came to the understanding God's will was priesthood and my will was rockstardom. After making that decision, to allow God's will to be mine, I needed a new way to channel my creativity. I began writing as I finished up my formation for priesthood. I still play music, but priestly ministry comes first. My bride: St. Rita of Cascia Parish in Harahan, LA.

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