|St. Augustine is baptized by St. Ambrose
Benozzo Gozzoli, 1465
Augustine did recognize that although true pilgrims may not be of the world, they are certainly in the world. Thus the pilgrim is affected by its cares and concerns. And so Augustine gives practical advice to the pilgrim concerning the things of this world. For instance, in one of his Tractates on the Gospel of St. John, Augustine addresses the pilgrim’s attitude to money. “For you money will be an instrument of pilgrimage, not a stimulus of greed; which you should use for necessity, not to enjoy for pleasure.”30 In this same work, he goes on to say that we should use money the way a traveler uses a wayside inn, not with the purpose of remaining, but to use it temporarily and then move forward. What must always travel with us on our pilgrimage are: “the divine Scriptures, the assembling of the people, the celebration of the sacraments, holy baptism, and singing God’s praises.”31 These are the things that we should cling to us as we travel on our pilgrimage of life.
In this list of what we should pack with us as we travel, are some things that you might well expect: the Bible and the sacraments. But Augustine also includes the assembling of the people as important to our pilgrimage. Our pilgrim companions are found in an ever widening circle of family, friends and Church. We are pilgrims even in our own home, and “the family which lives by faith is journeying toward the celestial city.”32 Augustine knows that the faithful family and the earthly family live side-by-side; further he acknowledges that both families use the good things of the world necessary for life, and that both seek happiness and peace. But while the earthly family uses these things as an end in themselves, the pilgrim family uses them simply as a means to help them on their journey.
Families, of course, live together in a broader society. The society of pilgrim-families is the pilgrim Church. Augustine frequently referred to the Church as the “heavenly city while in its state of pilgrimage.” This pilgrim Church “gathers together a society of pilgrims of all languages, not scrupling about diversities in (human) manners, laws and institutions.”33 What holds this society of the pilgrim Church together is commonality of faith, hope and love. That commonality is manifested by how Christians on pilgrimage pray together. “For witness the prayer of the whole city of God in its pilgrim state, for it cries to God by the mouth of all its members, Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”34
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