What Augustine Means by “Confession.”

Augustine, in his autobiography entitled Confessions, praises God for taking him from a dark and sinful state, to the light of faith in Jesus Christ. He boldly admits his sinful past, and asks God to “come into me.” Confession, then, to Augustine, is both a prayer of thanks for God’s great glory and an acknowledgement of his sins and his human weakness.

Augustine describes his wayward past (for example, thinking lustful thoughts during mass, which he attended as a young man with his mother). He also describes his true conversion to the Christian faith, and his regret for having violated God’s moral laws for much of his life.

Although Augustine came from a good family, he stole things and socialized with bad, young people. He confesses that he believed in a false belief system and engaged in illicit sexual activity. When one of his friends dies, he is overwhelmed with emptiness. Because of the great influence of St. Ambrose, as Augustine enters his 30s, he begins to understand the true, Christian God.

Confessions is both a prayer thanking God and a testament to God’s glory for taking Augustine away from a sinful life obsessed with material pleasures and sin, to one of great joy and fulfillment—founded on the truth of what his mother, St. Monica, had always tried to teach him as a youth.

Logos As Christ

At first, reading Arius’ Letter to Eusebius of Nicomedia, a reader is struck with a sense that Arius is being persecuted for a nuance, an inconsequential idea being debated among Christians of the time. A modern reader, who is inundated with worse heresies daily, may be struck by Arius’ weak support for his argument, and even his obsession with his persecutors (rather than his argument). His appeal to his friend, “orthodox Eusebius,” however, at first seems harmless.

Then, when one reads the thorough analysis of Athanasius, which presents the Arian viewpoint fairly and more thoroughly— not as a strawman— it becomes clear that “Arianism” was a very serious heresy, which, at such a seminal time, had the potential to lead many souls astray. What is at stake in this controversy is the Trinity Itself. If Arius is right, that Jesus, having been created, must therefore be “less” than God the Father (since God is eternal), then Christ is not actually consubstantial with the Father. This would mean his Passion, death and resurrection could not defeat death, just as God’s miracles in the Old Testament (or even the healing Jesus performed on earth) did not defeat death for mankind.

Athanasius cites John; to me, this ends the argument: “In the beginning was the Logos and the Logos was with God and the Logos was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and apart from him not one thing came to be … and the Logos became flesh and dwelt among us …” (87, citing John 1). For Arius to be correct, John must be wrong. Athanasius was correct to compare Arius to Caiaphas.

Irenaeus: Supporting the Martyrs by Refuting the Gnostics

The Old Testament (OT), according to the Church, reveals the one true God, and God so loved the world, we learn in the New Testament (NT), that He became man (John 3:16). A dangerous heresy called Gnosticism, among other things, separated the god of the OT from the god of the NT; indeed, Gnostics saw the material world that God created as evil. Irenaeus recognized that this gnostic heresy, which denied the humanity of Christ, was leading souls astray.

Irenaeus’ work, Against Heresies, meticulously and effectively dismantles the gnostic heresy. Irenaeus accomplishes this by, among other things, showing that Jesus Christ can actually be found in the OT, and, as the disciple John points out, “[i]n the beginning was the Word…[and] all things came to be through him…” In other words, God and Jesus Christ are one and the same.

It is understandable that some Christians would try to devise a logical explanation for the apparent change in the God of the OT and the God of the NT. “An eye for an eye,” became “turn the other cheek,” for example. Irenaeus’ explanation is not that God changed, for He (the Truth) is “impassible.” Irenaeus might refute the gnostics by pointing out that yes, we change, and thus in God’s mercy and love, the method of His incarnational revelation also changes. In His patience and mercy, He chose the time, the people, and the place for the fulfillment of the OT.

Belief in Christ saves souls, but only a belief in the true Christ—thus Irenaeus’ work, which helped to stop a serious heresy, is a great contribution by a great saint who devoted his life to the salvation of souls. His work is a tribute to the true faith for which so many have been martyred—and continue to be martyred.

Perpetua’s Heroic Christian Identity

In examining Perpetua’s identity, we learn that she was a newly married woman of good family and upbringing, a nursing mother, a daughter, a Roman citizen, and one of three children. We learn that she was 22 years old and a catechumen, not even yet baptized into the faith when she was arrested, yet the identity she most valued was the Christian identity. When her father implored her to disavow her Christian faith, she said, “do you see this vase here…Could it be called by any other name than what it is?” When her father replied “no,” she responded, “well, so too I cannot be called anything other than what I am, a Christian.”

Thus her identity as a Christian was superior to her identity as a wife, a mother, a daughter, a Roman citizen, and a woman. Perpetua’s faithful identity as a Christian was evident through her captivity unto death where she endured pain to the greatest degree. Her and her fellow martyr’s example of “perseverance and nobility of soul” reflected the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Their witness to Christ, then and even today, inspires many to become Christian.