The following excerpt from St. Augustine's treatise may be of relevance when
we consider the Gospel reading, where Peter is experiencing dejection from
having fished all night and caught nothing, and then, on seeing the miracle, a
sudden loss of strength, so that he falls on his knees before Jesus, and
despairs that he can even be saved - Depart from me for I am a sinful man. O
Lord. He is in need of hope and courage, which our Lord graciously
supplies. Fear not!
from De Quantitate Animae by St. Augustine
(from Chapter 22, paragraph
Writers: The Works of the Fathers in Translation
No. 9 Translated and
Annotated by Joseph Colleran
The Newman Press,
Westminster Maryland, 1950.
If then, what is called strength is made up of an
impulse from the soul and a sort of mechanism of the nerve sinews and the
weight of the body, it is the will that gives the impulse; and this is
intensified by hope or courage, but retarded by fear and far more so by
despair; for in the case of fear, provided there is some underlying hope,
generally a more energetic show of strength comes to the fore...
it is not physical weight nor muscular control that fails, but the will
itself—that is, the soul—with the result that a stronger man is vanquished
by another definitely weaker, because he has but a faint heart to offer for
the courage of the other, I do not know whether this is to be credited to
strength. If so, one might say that the soul has a reservoir of strength of
its own, from which it derives added pluck or confidence. Here we find, one
man is equipped, another is not, and so it is seen how far superior the soul
is to its body, even in regard to the activity it performs through the body.