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One of the most vexing problems in our spiritual lives is the moral failings, and even outright wickedness, of our fellow Christians. This is especially painful when it is our fathers in Christ who fail or worse betray us.
We are all of us prone in our pain to think that ours is the first generation to suffer this but we are not. Precisely because of the damage it can do, St Augustine address this issue in his treatise On the Catechising of the Uninstructed, [De Catechizandis Rudibus]. So, I offer for your reflection and comment Augustine’s reflections of the presence of good and evil individuals in the Church.
From St Augustine, On the Catechising of the Uninstructed, [De Catechizandis Rudibus], Chapter 19, “Of the Co-Existence of Good and Evil in the Church, and Their Final Separation.”
31. Neither ought we to be moved by the consideration that many consent unto the devil, and few follow God; for the grain, too, in comparison with the chaff, has greatly the defect in number. But even as the husbandman knows what to do with the mighty heap of chaff, so the multitude of sinners is nothing to God, who knows what to do with them, so as not to let the administration of His kingdom be disordered and dishonored in any part. Nor is the devil to be supposed to have proved victorious for the mere reason of his drawing away with him more than the few by whom he may be overcome. In this way there are two communities— one of the ungodly, and another of the holy— which are carried down from the beginning of the human race even to the end of the world, which are at present commingled in respect of bodies, but separated in respect of wills, and which, moreover, are destined to be separated also in respect of bodily presence in the day of judgment. For all men who love pride and temporal power with vain elation and pomp of arrogance, and all spirits who set their affections on such things and seek their own glory in the subjection of men, are bound fast together in one association; nay, even although they frequently fight against each other on account of these things, they are nevertheless precipitated by the like weight of lust into the same abyss, and are united with each other by similarity of manners and merits. And, again, all men and all spirits who humbly seek the glory of God and not their own, and who follow Him in piety, belong to one fellowship. And, notwithstanding this, God is most merciful and patient with ungodly men, and offers them a place for penitence and amendment.
Read the rest here: Of the Co-Existence of Good and Evil in the Church, and Their Final Separation
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