The following excerpt from St. Augustine's treatise may be of relevance when
we consider the Epistle reading, For ye were as sheep going astray; but are
now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. If we follow
His example, and suffer in the flesh, that is, to not always give in to the
flesh but to suffer it, by grace, we give birth in us to the virtuous life, and
our mind (higher reason) is once again able to look up (within) to Christ.
Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, the minds of the faithful are being
cleansed and there is a resurrection of sorts of Christ in our souls as we hear
and are guided by the Truth, the Teacher, the Good Shepherd within our souls.
from De Magistro by St. Augustine
(Chapter 14, paragraphs
45 and 46)
Writers: The Works of the Fathers in Translation
No. 9 Translated and
Annotated by Joseph Colleran
The Newman Press,
Westminster Maryland, 1950.
Christ teaches within the mind. Man's words are external, and serve only
to give reminders.
Teachers do not claim, do they, that their own thoughts are perceived and
grasped by the pupils, but rather the branches of learning that they think they
transmit by speaking. For who would be so absurdly curious as to send his
child to school to learn what the teacher thinks? But when they have
explained, by means of words, all those subjects which they profess to teach,
and even the science of virtue and of wisdom, then those who are called pupils
consider within themselves whether what has been said is true. This they
do by gazing attentively at that interior truth, so far as they are able.
Then it is that they learn; and when within themselves they find that what has
been said is true, they give praise, not realizing that they are praising not so
much teachers as persons taught - provided that the teachers also know what they
are saying. But people deceive themselves in calling persons "teachers"
who are not such at all, merely because generally there is no interval between
the time of speaking and the time of knowing. And because they are quick
to learn internally following the prompting of the one who speaks, they think
they have learned externally from the one who was only a prompter.
But at some other time, God willing, we shall investigate the entire problem
of the utility of words, which if considered properly, is not negligible.
For the present, I have reminded you that we must not attribute to words more
than is proper. Thus we should no longer merely believe but also begin to
understand how truly it has been written on divine authority that we should not
call anyone on earth a teacher, since there is One in heaven who is the
teacher of all. (Matt 23:9) What "in heaven" means He Himself will
teach us, who has also counselled us through the instrumentality of human beings
-- by means of signs, and externally -- to turn to Him internally and be
instructed. He will teach us, to know and love whom is happiness of life,
and this is what all proclaim they are seeking, though there are but few who may
rejoice in having really found it.
...If you have come to realize that what has been said is true, then if you
had been asked about the several propositions, you would have stated that you
knew them. You see, then, from whom you have learned these things.
No, it is not from me, for you would have given me all the answers as I
questioned you. But if you had not ascertained that what has been said is
true, neither have I taught you, nor has He. Not I, because I am unable to
teach in any case; not He, because you are still unable to learn.