PODCAzT 06: St. Augustine on the woman at the well

It’s podcast time, so here we go again!  Let’s dig into some Augustine of Hippo on this 3rd Sunday of Lent. 

I was going simply to use the English provided in the English language breviary but the translation is SO BAD that I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  I found an older translation and matched it up with the way the editors of the Liturgia horarum stiched together the second reading.  The translation is a little stiff and stylized for our ears, but it is better than the rubbish in the English language breviary.  For example, the opening phrase in Latin is:  Forma Ecclesiae, non iam iustificatae, sed iam iustificandae.  In the English book this is rendered as "She is a symbol of the Church not yet made righteous."  It is enough to make you scream.

Today we have Augustine and then we take a stroll down to the Trevi Fountain.  There are lots of bells, too.

Ex tractatu sancti Augustini episcopi in Ioannem

10. "And there came a woman." Figure of the Church not yet justified, but now about to be justified: for this is the subject of the discourse. She comes ignorant, she finds Him, and there is a dealing with her. Let us see what, and wherefore. "There comes a woman of Samaria to draw water." The Samaritans did not belong to the nation of the Jews: they were foreigners, though they inhabited neighboring lands. It would take a long time to relate the origin of the Samaritans; that we may not be detained by long discourse of this, and leave necessary matters unsaid, suffice to say, then, that we regard the Samaritans as aliens. And, lest you should think that I have said this with more boldness than truth, hear the Lord Jesus Himself, what He said of that Samaritan, one of the ten lepers whom He had cleansed, who alone returned to give thanks: "Were there not ten cleansed? And where are the nine? There was not another to give glory to God, save this stranger." Luke 17:17 It is pertinent to the image of the reality, that this woman, who bore the type of the Church, comes of strangers: for the Church was to come of the Gentiles, an alien from the race of the Jews. In that woman, then, let us hear ourselves, and in her acknowledge ourselves, and in her give thanks to God for ourselves. For she was the figure, not the reality; for she both first showed forth the figure and became the reality. For she believed on Him who, of her, set the figure before us."She comes, then, to draw water." Had simply come to draw water, as people are wont to do, be they men or women.

11. "Jesus says unto her, Give me to drink. For His disciples were gone away into the city to buy meat. Then says the Samaritan woman unto Him, How is it that you, being a Jew, askest drink of me, who am a Samaritan woman? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans." You see that they were aliens: indeed, the Jews would not use their vessels. And as the woman brought with her a vessel with which to draw the water, it made her wonder that a Jew sought drink of her,—a thing which the Jews were not accustomed to do. But He who was asking drink was thirsting for the faith of the woman herself.

12. At length, hear who it is that asks drink: "Jesus answered and said unto her, If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that says to you, Give me to drink, you would, it may be, have asked of Him, and He would have given you living water." He asks to drink, and promises to give drink. He longs as one about to receive; He abounds as one about to satisfy. "If you knew," says He, "the gift of God." The gift of God is the Holy Spirit. But as yet He speaks to the woman guardedly, and enters into her heart by degrees. It may be He is now teaching her. For what can be sweeter and kinder than that exhortation?" If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that says to you, Give me to drink, you would, it may be, have asked of Him, and He would have given you living water." : thus far He keeps her in suspense.

16.  …  Of what water, then, is He to give, but of that of which it is said, "With You is the fountain of life"? For how shall they thirst, who "shall be drunk with the fatness of Your house"?

17. What He was promising them was a certain feeding and abundant fullness of the Holy Spirit: but the woman did not yet understand; and not understanding, how did she answer? "The woman says unto Him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw." Want forced her to labor, and her weakness was pleading against the toil. Would that she heard the invitation, "Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you!" Matthew 11:28 This is, in fact, what Jesus was saying to her, that she might no longer labor: but she did not yet understand.

Et venit mulier. Forma Ecclesiae, non iam iustificatae, sed iam iustificandae; nam hoc agit sermo Venit ignara, envenit eum, et agitur cum illa. Videamus quid, videamus quare venit mulier de Samaria haurire aquam. Samaritani ad Iudaeorum gentem non pertinebant; alienigenae enim fuerunt. Pertinet ad imaginem rei, quod ab alienigenis venit ista mulier, quae typum gerebat Ecclesiae; ventura enim erat Ecclesia de gentibus, alienigena a genere Iudaeorum.
Audiamus ergo in illa nos, et in illa agnoscamus nos, et in illa gratias Deo agamus pro nobis. Illa enim figura erat, non veritas; quia et ipsa praemisit figuram, et facta est veritas. Nam credidit in eum, qui de illa figuram nobis praetendebat. Venit ergo haurire aquam. Simpliciter venerat haurire aquam, sicut solent vel viri vel feminae.
Dicit ei Iesus: Da mihi bibere. Discipuli enim eius abierant in civitatem, ut cibos emerent. Dicit ergo ei mulier illa Samaritana: Quomodo tu, Iudaeus cum sis, bibere a me poscis, quae sum mulier Samaritana? Non enim coutuntur Iudaei Samaritanis.

Videtis alienigenas: omnino vasculis eorum Iudaei non utebantur. Et quia ferebat secum mulier vasculum unde aquam hauriret, eo mirata est, quia Iudaeus petebat ab ea bibere, quod non solebant facere Iudaei. Ille autem, qui bibere quaerebat, fidem ipsius mulieris sitiebat.

Denique audi quis petat bibere. Respondit Iesus et dixit ei: Si scires donum Dei, et quis est qui dicit tibi "Da mihi bibere," tu forsitan petisses ob eo, et dedisset tibe aquam vivam.

De qua ergo aqua daturus est, nisi de illa de qua dictum est: Apud te est fons vitae? Nam quomodo sitient qui inebriabuntur ab ubertate domus tuae?

Promittebat ergo saginam quamdam et satietatem Spiritus Sancti, et illa nondum intellegebat; et non intellegens, quid respondebat? Dicit ad eum mulier: Domine, da mihi hanc aquam, ut non sitiam, neque veniam huc haurire.Venite ad me, omnes qui laboratis et onorati estis, et ego vos reficiam? Hoc enim ei dicebat Iesus, ut iam non laboraret; sed illa nondum intellegebat.


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  1. David says:

    I downloaded this (my first) podcast earlier today – and am overjoyed! As a recent convert I have been trying to make up for what is lacking in my flimsy understanding of the Catholic faith (see the thread on the RCIA on the New Liturgical Movement site – sigh…) and have been listening to recordings of Fulton Sheen. These will be wonderful companion pieces for Abp Sheen’s talks. Please keep it up! Believe me, your talks can only help contribute to a better understanding of the faith and of Catholic thought.

    After ploughing through so much that is half-hearted and watered-down in modern Catholic ‘apologetics’ it is wonderful to hear the clarity and simplicity of the words of St Augustine and St Ambrose.

    Plus the music’s pretty snappy!

  2. Patrick Ford says:

    The Roman holiday Podcast! Great! Thank you. Thanks, too, for the better english translation.

  3. Thomas says:

    Hmmm…no mention here of the back rub Jesus gave her, according to a homily I heard a few years ago.

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