A warning from Saint Augustine

Commenting on the Gospel for Ash Wednesday, (Matthew 6:16-22) Saint Augustine writes: "On the other hand, whosoever from choice, and not of necessity, professeth Christianity in such wise as to draw attention unto himself by reason of his seeming humility, or his particular disregard for outward things, this man is to be judged from the fashion of his other behaviour, as to whether therein he sheweth a desire for mortification, or rather for vainglory. For the Lord biddeth us beware of wolves in sheep's clothing." How many of us advertise our fasting, as if fasting makes us holy. No, we should seek to be little and hidden as Scripture advises: "But thou when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee." (Matthew 6:6) Notice that Saint Augustine compares those who seek the praise of others in their apparent piety, which is a fake piety, to wolve's in sheep's clothing. "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." (Matthew 7:15)

From the book, Lenten Instructions from the Roman Breviary.


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