Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume III/Moral Treatises of St. Augustin/On the Good of Widowhood/Section 23
23. If, therefore, you had not as yet vowed unto God widowed continence, we would assuredly exhort you to vow it; but, in that you have already vowed it, we exhort you to persevere. And yet I see that I must so speak as to lead those also who had as yet thought of marriage to love it and to seize on it. Therefore let us give ear unto the Apostle, “She who is unmarried,” saith he, “is careful about the things of the Lord, to be holy both in body and spirit; but she who is married is careful about the things of the world, how to please her husband.” He saith not, is careful about the things of the world, so as not to be holy; but certainly that that marriage holiness is less, in regard of that portion of cares, which hath thought of the pleasure of the world. Whatever, therefore, I of earnest purpose of mind would be expended also on these things whereby she would have to please a husband, the unmarried Christian woman ought in a certain way to gather and bring together unto that earnest purpose whereby she is to please the Lord. And consider, Whom she pleases, who pleases the Lord; and assuredly she is by so much the more blessed by how much the more she pleases Him; but by how much the more her thoughts are of the things of the world, by so much the less does she please Him. Therefore do ye with all earnest purpose please Him, Who is “’fair of form above the sons of men.” For that ye please Him, it is by His grace which is “shed abroad on His lips.” Please ye Him in that portion of thought also, which would be occupied by the world, in order to please a husband. Please ye Him, Who displeased the world, in order that such as please Him might be set free from the world. For This One, fair of form above the sons of men, men saw on the Cross of the Passion; “and He had not form or beauty, but His face cast down, and His posture unseemly.” Yet from this unseemliness of your Redeemer flowed the price of your beauty, but of a beauty within, for “all the beauty of the King’s daughter is within.” By this beauty please ye Him, this beauty order ye with studious care and anxious thought. He loves not dyes of deceits; the Truth delighteth in things that are true, and He, if you recognize what you have read, is called the Truth. “I am,” saith He, “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.” Run ye to Him through Him, please ye Him of Him; live ye with Him, in Him, of Him. With true affections and holiest chastity love ye to be loved by such a Husband.
- 1 Cor. vii. 34
- Most mss. “but certainly that divine holiness.”
- Ps. xlv. 2
- Is. liii. 2. [See R.V.]
- Ps. lxv. 13. [See R.V.]
- John xiv. 6