Yesterday I wrote my column for the Christmas issue of The Wanderer. Inter alia I delved into what St. Augustine said about the eternal Word becoming an infans, "incapable of speech", as the Lord’s way of teaching humility. Augustine explores this mystery quite a few times in his sermons for Christmas. I drill into some examples.
I did, however, want to share this one in particular. A good example of this "speechless Word" images comes at the very beginning of s. 187, preached perhaps before 411. We can get a sense of how Augustine sounded even in translation:
“He is the One through whom all things have been made and, on Christmas, Who has been made in the midst of all things. He is the Revealer of His Father and the Creator of His mother, the Son of God through His Father without a mother and the Son of Man through His mother without a father. He is great in the eternal day of the angels but small in the time-conditioned day of men. He is the Word of God before all time and the Word made Flesh in the fullness of time. Maker of the sun, He is made under the sun. Disposer of all ages in the bosom of His Father, He consecrates Christmas Day in the womb of His mother. In Him He remains while from her He goes forth. Creator of the heavens and the earth, He is born on earth under the heavens. Unspeakably wise, He is wisely speechless (Ineffabiliter sapiens, sapienter infans). Filling the universe, He lies in a manger. Ruler of the stars, He nurses at His mother’s bosom. He is both great in the nature of God and small in the form of a servant, but His greatness is not diminished by His smallness nor His smallness overwhelmed by His greatness.”
You might be interested to know that I did a search of Augustine’s works using one of my tools and found some 397 instances of a form of ineffabilis (ineffabil*).
I am not sure what that indicates about Augustine’s opinion of his congregation…. but there it is.