DON GIACOMO TANTARDINI’S LESSON FOR THE FEAST OF SANT’AGOSTINO
Today August 28, 2022, feast of St. Augustinewe want to remember the figure of Don Giacomo Tantardini who had dedicated an entire life of research and spasmodic testimony to the Saint of Hippo. In February 2006 the theologian e late priest – struck during his studies by the meeting with Don Luigi Giussani – held a cycle of conferences on the relevance of the figure of St. Augustine. In particular, below we report some of Don Giacomo’s most moving emphases on the faith and human depth that the Saint-philosopher, converted to Catholicism in adulthood, was for the entire history of the Church. At the bottom of the page you will find the full video to listen to the entire meeting held at Palazzo del Bo at the Faculty of History of the University of Padua.
«Incredible human and therefore human experience of Saint Augustine after his conversion, narrated in the“ Confessions ”»: this is how Don Giacomo presented to the students and all those present who Saint Augustine of Hippo really was. «Augustine in the reading of Plato he senses and is the apex of religious intuition that man is happy if he enjoys God ”: this is the intuition of St. Augustine, an enjoyment of the virtues of the soul. This, Don Giacomo explained, is the ultimate intuition of human reason: “the destiny of man is full happiness in continuity with the creator”. But for St. Augustine the question is clear: “how is it possible to know if happiness is in God? I was looking for a way to enjoy the happiness that is God!», Emphasized the Saint of Hippo according to the lesson of Don Tantardini. Precisely that enjoyment was not possible “until I embraced the man Christ Jesus,” admits St. Augustine: the teacher and Doctor of the Church admitted that he was impossible to find that ultimate happiness “without humbly embracing the humble God Jesus, “This is the heart of Augustine’s Christian experience and of the Christian experience of two thousand years”.
SANT’AGOSTINO, RATZINGER AND FAITH: THE TESTIMONY OF DON TANTARDINI
“Reading passages from Saint Augustine means presenting the heart, the human sensitivity of Augustine, a sensitivity that grace purifies and at the same time enhances”: this is how Don Giacomo Tantardini explained in his intervention then published in the magazine 30Giorni of 25 November 2008. St. Augustine, «to express the dynamics of grace he finds no other words than the very words with which he had described the dynamics of sin, that is, delectatio and concupiscentia. Augustine uses the same word, concupiscentia, both to indicate the human dynamic which, wounded by original sin, leads to evil, and to indicate the dynamic of grace, that good attraction that grace offers to the totality of man, soul and body. ». Resuming the lecture he gave at the University in 2006, Don Tantardini affirmed that even today one cannot understand the relevance of Agostino without understanding that for him the horizon of every step, of every journey to truth, is happiness. “The truth does not build the heart if it is not pleasant, if it does not make the heart happy”, St. Augustine emphasized in the Confessions.
The Saint of Hippo understands that such happiness is not the end of a single and long path, it is not a term “of a few” and “optimates”: according to Don Giacomo Tantardini, «happiness on Earth is in simple recognition, not in a long journey. Happiness on Earth is a free encounter, simple recognition“. Ratzinger in his doctoral thesis on Saint Augustine – quoted by Don Tantardini – he reflected thus: «the mystery of Christians and their paradox, the Logos becomes flesh. The highest purification towards the maximum spirituality is not accomplished through the intellect but in faith ». It is not an asceticism of the soul of man that leads to happiness, but it is the free and present encounter with God “through the flesh of the humble Jesus”, Don Tantardini comments.
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