About St. Augustine Church
A Short Life of our Patron, St. Augustine of Hippo
After seeking the truth among many religious schools of thought, including the Manicheans, Augustine was turned to faith in Christ though the counsel and fervent prayers of his mother, St. Monica. After having heard in a vision some words of St. Paul and having heard the eloquent words of St. Ambrose of Milan, Augustine was baptized. The story of his early life and conversion is beautifully told in his Confessions. He lived for seventy-six years. The last thirty-five as bishop of Hippo in North Africa. Here it was that he wrote a rule of life that was to guide many in the monastic life in the West. He died at Hippo in a barbarian attack on the city.
St. Augustine is commemorated according to the western calendar on August 28, the day of his heavenly birthday and on May 5 the day of his conversion. In the East he is commemorated along with his mother, St. Monica, on June 15.
In recent years, a few Orthodox writers have tried to deny that Augustine is a Saint of the Orthodox Church. This is mostly due to some theological errors in his writings—the saints are never held as infallible and in many of the patristic writings we find things not received by the Church! This is largely because the theological errors have been played up in the dissident West particularly in the writings of the 16th Century Reformers. These claims regarding the status of St. Augustine however are false; from the time of his canonization he has been held as a saint in the East and the West. The Ecumenical Council gave him the title “Blessed,” very much like St. Bede is know as “Venerable”.
The Liturgical Rites
Saint Augustine Parish uses the ancient Roman Rite of Saint Peter the Apostle commonly called the Rite of Saint Gregory the Great (c. 540 –604) (who codified it during his pontificate as Orthodox Pope of Rome.). This Rite would be very familiar to Roman Catholic Christians and Anglo Catholics before the massive and devastating changes of the Second Vatican Council in 1964. (This rite is also called among some the “Tridentine Rite” as its use was codefied and made mandatory throughout the Western Patriarchate at the Council of Trent in the 16th Century.) The Liturgy is celebrated in the vernacular (that is a liturgical form of English) and Latin. The orientation at Mass is ad patrem—“towards the Father.” In other words the priest and the people all face liturgical east together, rather than the celebrant “chatting over the breakfast table” to everyone in a familiar and common manner. This was the normative way of celebrating the Eucharist in ALL liturgical Rites before the upheaval or liturgical revolution of the 1960s in Western churches. Just like our counterparts in the Eastern Church, we all face God during the Liturgy.
The Office or the Liturgy of the Hours is also a part of the liturgical expression at St. Augustine’s Church. Regular Vespers—evening prayer—is held on all Saturday evenings. These are all taken from the Brevarium Monasticum, the ancient Benedictine Office Books. These are the oldest and purest forms of the Breviary (Western Book of the Hours) coming down to us from the time of St. Benedict of Nursia (c. 480 AD – 547 AD), the founder of Western Monasticism.
There are various devotional practices common to Orthodox of the Western Rite. The Rosary, Stations of the Cross, Lenten devotions to the Mother of Sorrows, a pre-Pentecost Novena to the Holy Ghost, to name but a few are also a part of the rich devotional life of our parishioners.
The Church Building
The Church of St. Augustine is a lovely Edwardian Gothic structure built in 1912 by German Lutherans. It is richly appointed with beautiful altars, Stations of the Cross, statuary and Iconography. There are some fine pieces of original artwork by noted Denver artist, William Joseph, namely the bronze plaques of the four evangelists on the Great Doors to the Church and the communion rail. The stained glass window over the Main Entrance is also by Mr. Joseph and represents the symbols of our patron, St. Augustine of Hippo.
The Church has two organs; a fine Custom Rodgers three manual organ in the Choir loft and a Hilgreen Lane pipe organ in the Sanctuary loft.
An adult Education Series is offered at St. Augustine’s regularly throughout the year. The purpose is to help our members deepen their Faith and learn more about the many aspects of our Holy Religion. Soon we will be offering classes in Greek and Latin as well.
A program of Church School is offered for the young people of the parish. Without this, our youth cannot be expected to deal with the trials and challenges of modern life.
As mentioned under Liturgical Music, a schola cantorum, literally a “school of chant,” is being established to teach the fundamentals of Gregorian Plainsong to interested men who will perform the sacred music at weekly offices and masses.
Seminars and workshops covering a variety of topics are offered from time to time during the year taking advantage of the wide gifts of members and visitors to St. Augustine’s.
All Christians but especially Western Rite Christians have a special duty to support their churches in that they are preserving the Western Rite within Orthodoxy for posterity. It would be very selfish for us to think only of ourselves. Our Rite must be preserved and it is preserved not as an idea—cerebrally—but as a reality within our living, breathing, functioning church communities. We have been given this special gift born out of sacrifice, and we must support it sacrificially.
Saint Augustine’s Parish is funded by the tithes and offerings of its members. It is seen as a theological principle and way of life that one would support the work of God in his parish. To this end all members are expected to pledge each year to the upkeep of their parish church.
It is a time-tested principle that the depth of our love can only be quantified by what we allow it to costs us. The Holy Scripture enjoins the tithe upon us. While that is the ideal, we realize that in our modern secular and demanding world, we might not all be able to begin with the tithe (10% of our income). To this end, a real sacrificial gift of some percentage—for example, 2% to start with is given “off the top” each pay day to the work of the Church. After a year, perhaps the gift can be increased by one or two percentages. Thus in a few short years one arrives at the Biblical injunction in a relatively “painless” way.”
While the services of the Church are never denied to one because of his inability to support the Church, it is a very serious spiritual matter that one sacrificially gives to the building up of the Body of Christ in his or her own parish.