St. Augustine caught me pleasantly a bit off guard this morning and I thought I'd share this marvelous quote from him with you:
“15. But as men are prone to estimate sins, not by reference to their inherent sinfulness, but rather by reference to their own customs, it frequently happens that a man will think nothing blameable except what the men of his own country and time are accustomed to condemn, and nothing worthy of praise or approval except what is sanctioned by the custom of his companions; and thus it comes to pass, that if Scripture either enjoins what is opposed to the customs of the hearers, or condemns what is not so opposed, and if at the same time the authority of the word has a hold upon their minds, they think that the expression is figurative. Now Scripture enjoins nothing except charity, and condemns nothing except lust, and in that way fashions the lives of men. In the same way, if an erroneous opinion has taken possession of the mind, men think that whatever Scripture asserts contrary to this must be figurative. Now Scripture asserts nothing but the catholic faith, in regard to things past, future, and present. It is a narrative of the past, a prophecy of the future, and a description of the present. But all these tend to nourish and strengthen charity, and to overcome and root out lust.” [On Christian Doctrine (Saint Augustine) - Highlight Loc. 1411-20 – Kindle Edition]
How else can you explain the dullness of people in reacting to the horrors alluded to in the case of the abortionist Kermit Gosnell on trial, charged with various accounts of murder? Why do some Catholic and Christian people not finally come to and face the truth about abortion - that it is always and everywhere wrong, wrong, wrong? If they hold to Scripture as an authority, they must deny the Bible's force because "custom" (everybody is doing it) binds them and blinds them to the truth. Needless to say this applies to any number of moral aberrations which according to surveys seem tolerable even when the Catholic Church teaches clearly otherwise.
I suppose the question might be whether St. Augustine, clear-headed and direct had any more success in his day than the Church's Teaching Authority (Magisterium) does today, not just with hardened criminals but with run-of-the-mill folk. Let us pray for the grace of conversion for all who call themselves Catholic or claim to be faithful to Holy Scripture! May Christ's Word really touch hearts and have the last say!