PODCAzT 109: A dust up in ancient Carthage and parishes that schism

Many dioceses are having to close parishes.  Now and then a bishop needs to discipline parishes which go renegade.  It sometimes happens that groups of Catholics just go do their own thing.

This got me thinking about a sermon of St. Augustine (+430) delivered in the cathedral of Carthage on 23 January 404.  Aurelius had invited Augustine to come to Carthage, probably to set an example of preaching against the heretical and schismatic Donatists. 

In the sermon in question, a newly discovered sermon listed as Dolbeau 2 or 359B in some lists, Augustine describes a real commotion in church that happened the day before, when he simply left the pulpit as the congregation became rowdy.  On this day, however, he uses the events of the day before to speak about obedience.

There isn’t a strict parallel of the situation Augustine describes in the sermon and what goes on in some renegade groups today, but you will find the hooks quickly and see that they are appropriate.

And so I return to my Patristic roots today and I give my own poor observations along the way.

We have to hear the great Fathers from time to time.  Their work is still actual, in the sense of being timely.

Herein you will hear some recreations of ancient Roman music by Synaulia as well as a slice of Sweetest of Sweets by the wonderful Herbert Howells and the beginning of Bernard Stevens "Agnus Dei" from the Mass for Double Choir.  


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. THREEHEARTS says:

    Here’s my problem I read First Peter verse 13 on obedience and ask myself to whom?
    I then go down to verse 22 to see an answer in Peter’s description of mutual love and wonder still more. So let me pose a question. If a bishop has an hidden agenda and claims we have to obey him for what he is, do we have to obey some one who is not truth through hidden agendas. My problem is it is written if you love Me then keep My commandments. I find it nauseating that so many highly moral men are stifled by a vow to obey the bishop, thus silencing their consciences for all times. It used to be a priest vowed to defend the Church against the disease of modernism. Nowadays bishops could not care less about modernism, see a previous post on how silly those popes were who fought modernism. As a priest once told me, I cannot help you because I would have to report to the bishop and he will put a stop to what you are doing or at least order me to stop you. What would happen father if your bishop told you to stop promoting Latin, what would you do? What should a priest do when he has 4 or 5 million in the bank of his parishioners money and the bishop demands he close the church because that money will pay the debt on a monstrosity down the road that is burning through diocesan funds. How would you handle that poser? Will you answer this question or pompously put aside this comment? We will see.

  2. THREEHEARTS: “Pompously put aside” your comment?


    You are obviously pretty angry about something. I suspect think you and/or some group you are in have been mistreated by a bishop.

    There are limits to the obedience an authority can claim. Authorities, such as bishops, must be given their due in those things which pertain to them.

    In whatever interactions that take place, people had better examine their consciences thoroughly and honestly.

    People on either side of a dispute can get all huffy and puffy, but in the end God cannot be fooled.

    Finally, if your comment – and the sign off to your comment – is any indication of how you try to resolve disputes with someone, I imagine that you may be a pretty frustrated person.

    To others reading this: Don’t bother chiming in. This is a rabbit hole.

  3. Hans says:

    a newly discovered sermon [by St. Augustine]

    Maybe you address this in the podcast, Fr. Z — unfortunately I won’t have a chance to listen to it probably until tomorrow — but how newly discovered is newly discovered?


    (The A problem with rabbit holes, is they make me hungry for rabbit in a red wine sauce, and that’s rarely what’s for dinner that day.)

  4. PomeroyJohn says:

    Thank you Father for this cast… It’ll take up a too short segment of my Pomeroy-Seattle drive tomorrow. But if it’s like those that preceded it, the discussions with my daughter will last much longer than the cast itself. We both will continue to keep you in our prayers and offer prayers of thanksgiving for your work.


  5. irishgirl says:

    Another great podcast, Father Z! I always like hearing the words of the Fathers of the Church-and also how you ‘pull them apart’.

    I hope you are feeling better health-wise.

    I always remember you ‘by name’ in my daily Rosary.

  6. I am feeling better. And this sermon by Augustine is really great.

  7. Geometricus says:

    Fr. Z, I love the background noise and reverb you put in when you proclaim the beginning of Augustine’s sermon in Latin. You are getting ever more adept at communicating the historical details that you know so well from your studies of Augustine. Thanks to your hard work, I could almost smell the incense in that sacred church as I listened to your podcast. Ultra cool.

  8. Geo: Thanks! Did you ever hear the one where I went back in time with the time machine?

  9. Dear Father,

    I had a chance to finally listen to this. I don’t know if I have ever told you this before, so hear it now…. I just soooo love hearing the Fathers through your PODCAzT’s. Your lead-in explanations and discussions after are great. Along with the great preaching at my parish, which is never short on quoting the Church Fathers, your audio clips just give me an even deeper appreciation.

    I found this particular sermon very useful for reasons I cannot get into at the moment. I really like the ways he revealed a heart can obey, just by his own example, and then discussing the behavior of others. People make the mistake of thinking that they don’t have to obey on anything but magisterial teachings. However, it is God-pleasing (and we more fully imitate Christ) when we obey our pastors and shepherds, even on pastoral issues (assuming that what they ask is not in contrary to Church teaching, norms, etc.).

    A good case in point is to consider the infighting that takes place at probably most parishes in ordinary things. There could be more than one “good” way to do the same thing. But, if a pastor, working within the bounds of what is allowed, chooses a particular way to do something that may not be to our liking, is it not the more virtuous route, to give up our will, for his? The same can be true of any authority figure, including that of a boss at work, operating within proper limits of authority.

    It is just plain virtuous to surrender our will, to the will of another. Next to giving up our very life in martyrdom, is there anything more pleasing to God than to offer up our will?

  10. wanda says:

    Thank you for this podcast Father. I second what Geo said at 10:49. If I close my eyes it is like being right there, listening to St. Augustine from across the centuries. What a timely topic also.

    Loved listening and learning.

  11. Fr. I tried all three options for this PODCAzT: download, play in popup and play now and for all three only 24 seconds are downloading or playing. Is anyone else having the same issue?

  12. Marius2k4 says:

    Father, where can I find the text of this? I did a Google search for “Conturbatio hesterni diei” and only found it in the references of a French-language research paper. Might I get the Latin from you? I love things such as this.

  13. Marius: This is s. 2D or else 359B. It is among the Dolbeau sermons, found in the manuscript in Mainz.

    F. Dolbeau, Augustin d’Hippone, Vingt-six sermons au peuple d’Afrique, 1996 (Etudes Augustiniennes, Antiquité, vol. 147)

    – List of the Mainz sermons:

    Dolbeau 2 359B p. 328-344
    Dolbeau 3 293A auctus p. 484-395
    Dolbeau 4 299A auctus p. 511-520
    Dolbeau 5 114B p. 435-449 (allows the knowledge of a sermon which hitherto had only been known in a non-Augustinian reworking: sermon 346A)
    Dolbeau 6 23B p. 459-468
    Dolbeau 7 142 auctus p. 302-303 (is in fact, technically speaking, the “post sermonem” of the Maurists’ sermon 142)
    Dolbeau 8 29B p. 23-28
    Dolbeau 9 28A auctus p. 30-35 (hitherto known by a quotation in Bede)
    Dolbeau 10 162C p. 45-56 (contains sermon 176A known by a quotation in Bede)
    Dolbeau 11 90A p. 59-67
    Dolbeau 12 354A auctus p. 77-84 (hitherto known from Bede and Florus)
    Dolbeau 13 159A p. 90-99
    Dolbeau 14 352A p. 107-114
    Dolbeau 15 283 auctus p. 196-203
    Dolbeau 16 72 auctus p. 121-132
    Dolbeau 17 110A p. 140-147
    Dolbeau 18 306F p. 210-218
    Dolbeau 19 130A p. 155-165
    Dolbeau 20 14A p. 168-171
    Dolbeau 21 159B p. 279-296
    Dolbeau 22 341 auctus p. 553-578 (contains sermon 4A known from Bede and Florus)
    Dolbeau 23 374 auctus p. 593-615
    Dolbeau 24 360A p. 232-242
    Dolbeau 25 360B p. 248-267 (contains sermon 97A which in fact is a cento)
    Dolbeau 26 198 auctus p. 366-417 (contains sermons 197 and 198A)
    Dolbeau 27 360C p. 311-314

    From the beginning:

    1. Conturbatio hesterni diei tam nostra quam uestra – et propter uos magis nostra quam uestra – silentium, fateor, imperabat; sed, quia de domino fratre caritas iubet, cui seruire necesse est – est autem et in uobis audiendi cupiditas, cui optamus deus fructum tribuere dignetur in moribus et oboedientia uestra -, seruimus uobis in nomine Christi, quoniam Christo seruimus cui membra estis.

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