Thanksgiving Sunday 
 
 Thankfulness in Prosperity
St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor
Translated by M.F. Toale, D.D.
(PL 36, col. 561, Enarratio in Psalmum xlviii. Sermon II, Par. 9.)
 
For in his lifetime his soul will be blessed; and he will praise thee when thou shalt do well to him (Ps. xlviii. i9).

In his lifetime his soul will be blessed. Let your Charity reflect on these words: In his lifetime his soul will be blessed. As long as he lived he did well for himself. This all men say, but they speak falsely. It is blessing that comes from the desire of the one blessing, not from Truth Itself. For what is it you are saying? Because he ate and drank, because he did what he wished, and because he feasted splendidly every day, he therefore did well for himself. But I say he did badly for himself. It is not I who say this, but Christ. He did evil to himself. For Dives, when he feasted sumptuously every day (Lk. xvi. 19), thought he did well for himself. But when he began to burn in hell, then what he thought good was found to be evil. For what he had eaten among the living, he digested in hell. I speak here of evil-doing, brethren, on which he was wont to feast.

He ate rich banquets with the mouth of his body; with the mouth of his heart he ate injustice. What he ate among the living with the mouth of his heart; it was this he digested in hell amid torments. He had indeed eaten well in time; he digested unhappily in eternity. Do we then eat evil-doing? Someone will say: what is he saying? Do we eat evil? It is not I who say this; listen to the Scriptures: As a sour grape is an affliction to the teeth, and smoke to the eyes, so is evil doing to them that indulge in it (Prov. x. 26, Sept.). For he who has eaten iniquity that is, he who has freely indulged in evil-doing, is unable to eat justice. For justice is bread. What bread? I am the living bread which came down from heaven (Jn. vi. 51). He is Himself the Bread of our heart. Just as he who eats sour grapes with the mouth of his body, has his teeth set on edge and is unable to eat bread; and must continue to praise what he sees, while unable to eat it; so he who indulges in iniquity, and eats sin in his heart, begins to be unable to cat bread; he praises the word of God, but does not do it.

Why is it he does not do it? Because when he begins to do it, he labours; just as we when we have eaten sour grapes feel our teeth labouring when we try to eat bread. But what do they do whose teeth are on edge? They restrain themselves for a time from sour grapes, till their teeth become firm, and then apply themselves to the bread. So also do we praise justice. But if we would eat justice, let us restrain ourselves from evil doing; and there will be born in our heart, not alone the delight of praising justice, but also the power to eat it. For if the Christian says: ĎGod knows that my delight is in this, but I am unable to fulfil ití; his teeth are weakened, because he has long eaten of iniquity. Is justice therefore also eaten? If it were not eaten, the Lord would not have said: Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice (Mt. v. 6). Therefore since in his lifetime his soul will be blessed: in life it shall be blessed, but in death it shall be tormented.

He will praise thee, when thou shalt do well to him. Apply your minds to this and be fed. Keep it close within your hearts. Eat, reflect upon such persons; and be not such as they are. Beware of these words: He will praise thee, when thou shalt do well to him. How many are the Christians, brethren, who give thanks to God when they gain something! This is the meaning of: he will praise thee, when thou shalt do well to him. He will praise Thee, and he will say: Thou art truly my God. He has delivered me from prison; I will praise Him. Wealth comes his way; he praises God. He receives an inheritance; he praises God. He suffers loss; he curses Him. What kind of son are you, who when the Father corrects you, He then becomes hateful to you? Would he have corrected you, unless you had displeased Him? Or had you so displeased Him that He hated you, would He have corrected you? Then give thanks to your Corrector, that you may receive an inheritance from God Who corrects you. For when you are being corrected, you are being taught. And He corrects you often; for great is that which you are to receive. For if you weigh your correction against what you are to receive, you will find that being corrected is as nothing. The Apostle Paul says this: For that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation, worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory. But when? While we look not, he says, at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (II Cor. iv. 17, 18). And again: The sufferings of this time, are not worthy to be compared with the glory to come, that shall be revealed in us (Rom. viii. i8).

What therefore do you suffer? But, you say, you are suffering all the time. I agree. Suppose that from the moment of your birth, through all the years of your life till extreme age, and until you died, you suffered what Job suffered; what he suffered for a few days, another may suffer from infancy. What you suffer passes, comes to an end; what you are to receive, shall never end. I would not have you weigh your suffering against your reward. But weigh, if you can, the things of time against eternity.

He will praise thee, when thou shalt do well to him.
Brethren: Do not be like such persons. Understand that it is for this we are saying these things, it is for this we forewarn you, it is for this we treat of these things, it is for this we sweat and toil: Be not guilty of such things. Your daily tasks are a trial to you. Sometimes in your dealings you hear the Truth, and you blaspheme, you speak evil against the Church. Why? Because you are good Christians? If that be so, Iíll join the Donatists. Iíll become a pagan. Why then? Because you have bitten bread, and your teeth pain you. When you first saw this same bread, you used to praise it. You began to eat it, and your teeth hurt you: that is, when you began to hear the word of God, you were full of praise of it. But when you were told, do this, you speak evil of it.

You must not think or speak like this. Say this: This is good bread, but I am unable to eat it. Now, if you see it with your eyes, you praise it; but when you begin to put your teeth in it, you say: This is bad bread, and what sort of a man made it? And so it is you praise God, when God does well by you. And therefore you lie, when you sing: I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall be always in my mouth (Ps. xxxiii. 2). The song of your lips comes to an end in your heart. In the Church you sang: I will bless the Lord at all times. What do you mean by, at all times? If I make a profit at all times, He will be praised at all times. If now and then there is loss, He will not be blessed, He will be cursed. Certainly you bless the Lord at all times, and no doubt His praise is always in your mouth? But it will be the kind of blessing and praise just now described: He will praise thee, when thou shalt do well to him.

Turning then to the Lord God, the Father Almighty, let us, from a pure heart, and as far as our littleness can, offer Him fullest, overflowing thanks; with our whole soul beseeching His singular mildness, that in His good pleasure He will deign to hear our prayers, and by His power drive what is evil from our thoughts and actions, that He may increase our faith, guide our minds, grant us His holy inspirations and lead us to His own blessedness through Jesus Christ His Son. Amen.

 
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