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Q: St. Augustine of Hippo ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: St. Augustine of Hippo
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: gpaul-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 23 Sep 2002 00:49 PDT
Expires: 23 Oct 2002 00:49 PDT
Question ID: 68009
I am trying to find the source of "pretium caritatis tu" (the price of
love is thyself) attributed to St. Augustine of Hippo.
The phrase is cited by Karl Tiedemann in Why Confession:
"It is the way the Master went, shall not the servant treadit too?"
St. Augustine, who left the way of sin and roseto tremendous heights
of holiness, caught the ideal of self-sacrifice and wrote: "Pretium
caritatis tu," - the price of love is thyself."
I have entered the phrase in the normal search engines on the internet
(Google, Yahoo, etc.), and the only direct match is to Father
Tiedemann.  I have called his monastery and he is deceased and his
tome is out of print.  I have run the phrase through web search
engines for St. Augustine's works which I have been able to locate on
the internet and have not been successful in finding the phrase.  I've
also emailed James O'Donnell at the U. of Pennsylvaia, who maintains
an extensive website on St. Augustine, and he was not familiar with
the phrase.
Since Father Tiedemann quoted the phrase precisely, and since he was a
Benedictine and that order has the most knowledge of St. Augustine's
writings, I am thinking that the quote is accurate and that it is just
a question of finding where it appears in St. Augustine's writings.
So what I am looking for specifically is a precise citation to the
specific writing of St. Augustine where the phrase "pretuim caritatis
tu" appears, so that I can learn about the context in which it was
written.  Thanks in advance for your assistance.

Request for Question Clarification by voila-ga on 24 Sep 2002 12:54 PDT
Hi gpaul,

I'm the bonehead who had your question locked for so long yesterday. 
I thought I'd found the phrase in this document but it's not *exact,*
to wit "any precious thing" rather than "love."

"Now to procure any great and precious thing, thou wouldest get ready
gold, or silver, or money, or any increase of cattle, or fruits, which
might be produced in thy possessions, to buy this I know not what
great and excellent thing, whereby to live in this earth happily. Buy
this too, if thou wilt. Do not look for what thou hast, but for what
thou art. The price of this thing is thyself. Its price is what thou
art thyself. Give thine own self, and thou shalt have it."

Additionally, from this document,
something along the same lines ("abandonment is the delicious fruit of

5. Why the expression Merciful Love?

"Mercy, according to the graceful Latin etymology given by St.
Augustine: "Miseriscordare," means:" to give one's heart to the
wretched." The soul, then, that offers itself to the Merciful Love of
God appeals by its very miseries to that inexplicable tendency of the
Divine Heart, which inclines irresistibly to outpour its Mercy without
measure on the abject and the lowly."

27. Is it on that account that our Saint calls the Victim of Love a
"happy victim?"

Yes, it is just because the self-abandonment, "delicious fruit of
Love," (St. Augustine)

And also here:
"Abandonment is the delicious fruit of love." 2 

  2 Elizabeth copied (and recopied) this thought attributed to St.
Augustine in her notebook of quotations (cf. PAT); she found it in
this form as an introductory quotation for a poem, "L'Abandon"
("Abandonment"), by Thérèse of Lisieux (HA 377, Poem 52).

It also could be from St. Augustine's tale of two cities "The City of
God" from the text at this site:

"So he formulated the human will as being in reality two wills. There
is a carnal self that wills sinful actions and a spiritual self that
wills belief, self-denial, and ethical actions—in much the same way
that human communities in history are divided into a City of Man and a
City of God. The carnal will he called cupiditas, or cupidity, and the
spiritual will he called caritas, which is the Latin translation of
the Christian term, agapé, which means "selfless love." But caritas is
more than selfless love; it is the will to be like God and to be
united with God. It is, in simple terms, the will to God, while
cupidity is the will to flesh."

More notes on the letting go of ego here:

"Another frequently appearing thesis is that mystics come to this
innate capacity through a process of letting go of the ego and the
conceptual system. This is especially clear in William Chittuck’s
article on Ibn al’Arabi, the Sufi who teaches that it is but
self-centeredness that "conceals the sun" of the innate character of
the self that is, God’s own self manifestation within the self.
Through the annihilation of the self, and, "abandoning" our
egocentricity or giving up our "delimited consciousness," we reveal
the innate "sun" within."

This document refers to St. Augustine's mention of the "commerce of

In the letter to the Philippians, St. Paul presents Christ "at the
moment he strips himself of his divine form, to take on 'the form of
slave,' the 'likeness of men.' This is the image of a God who
'annihilates' himself, 'empties' himself in order to give himself, to
give his own life unconditionally, to the point of the cross, where he
takes upon himself all the guilt of the world, to the point that He,
the 'innocent,' the 'just' comes to resemble sinful man," explained
Archbishop Nguyên Van Thuân. This is the wondrous exchange between God
and man, which St. Augustine described as the "commerce of love," and
Leo the Great as the "commerce of salvation."

Gary Wills' book about St. Augustine "Folly, Love, St. Augustine."

I feel like I'm dancing all around this quote but don't have it
exactly.  I sent an email to the Falvey Library at Villanova this
morning as they have an extensive collection of St. Augustine's work.

I just wanted to give you a status report to let you know we're
working on this.  If another researcher has library access and can
pick up on my notes, please do so, as I don't know when or if I can
get to this.  Couldn't help surrendering to the "delicious fruit" of
the research journey though.  ;-)

Will keep you posted,

Request for Question Clarification by voila-ga on 25 Sep 2002 16:30 PDT
Status Report:  The lovely librarian from Villanova returned my call
today.  The phrase you're looking for is contained in a CD-ROM
collection of sermons that is database protected (Corpus Augustinianum
Gissense).  I can give you the sermon number if you have a way to
access this collection.  If not, I have another e-mail in to the
Villonova Library for authorization to reprint a short section of the
text here.

Clarification of Question by gpaul-ga on 28 Sep 2002 00:34 PDT
First, let me thank you for your very fine efforts.  Hopefully
Villanova will give a release for the protected material.  If not, if
you could provide me with a cite to the work, I'll endeavor to gain
access to it.
Again, many thanks!
Subject: Re: St. Augustine of Hippo
Answered By: voila-ga on 28 Sep 2002 15:44 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi gpaul,

Since I don't know if you're on a clock -- short answer:  Sermon 34,
I'll go ahead and post this as an answer and amend the text once I
receive it along with permission to use a few lines around your
requested quote.

Long answer:

I learned from looking for a Martin Buber quote earlier that not
*everything* is on the internet.  You can look till you're blue in the
face.  I researched a solid day and when I happened onto the Villanova
site, I had a hunch these folks would be "in the know."  When the
librarian called me long distance with the information, I almost had a
heart attack, and like a cluck I didn't get that nice woman's name.

So, since it was a joint effort, what say I split the researcher fee
with the Villanova Library?  It seems only fair.  Libraries and
researchers can always use the extra bucks.

Also, there are two schools of researcher opinions here at GA -- the
most prevalent is *just* post what the client asks for.  As you could
probably tell, I don't belong to that school and was hoping you
wouldn't be upset that I posted all my tidbits of interest along the
way.   Hope you found something usable in my notes.  St. Augustine led
quite the unconvential life and I plan to read more about him since
this research project just whet my appetite.

More researcher's crumbs:

Sermon 34, 1/34, 2 

Sermon 34, 3
"The Fruit of Love, for example, is not something we acquire on our
own. Rather, after we let the Holy Spirit work within us by
faithfulness to grace, we will experience the Fruit of Love within us.
St. Paul tells us that The love of God has been poured into our
hearts."2 St. Augustine comments that This love is not something we
generate ourselves; it comes to us "through the Holy Spirit who has
been given to us."3

Sermon 34, 6
"You ask what you should sing about the one you love? For of course
you do want to sing about the one you love. You are asking for praises
of his to sing. You have been told, Sing to the Lord a new song. You
are looking for praise songs, are you? His praise is in the Church of
the saints. The praise of the one to be sung about is the singer
himself. Do you want to sing God his praises? Be yourselves what you
sing. You are his praise if you lead good lives."

on suffering and abandonment:

"St. Augustine wrote that the command "You must love the Lord your God
all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind" leads to
happy life....It imposes absolute obligation. It has no limits, for
measure of this love is the utmost capacity of mind, heart and soul. 
(Sermon 34, 7) - from Augustine on Prayer, Fr. Thomas Hand."

I should know something by next weekend.  If I hit a snag, I'll post
that as well.

It was a pleasure being of assistance to you,

Clarification of Answer by voila-ga on 06 Oct 2002 20:40 PDT
Update:  No word from my email but it wasn't returned.  They must be
frightfully busy at Villanova.  I wonder if you've been able to locate
the sermon and if it was the one you're looking for.  I'll be happy to
make some further inquires if you'll post me a note.

Request for Answer Clarification by gpaul-ga on 15 Oct 2002 10:25 PDT
First, let me thank you for your superb efforts in researching this
question.  If you have not heard from Villanova, could you please let
me have the email address and I can follow up with them.  I'm thinking
that if the sermon is on a cd, that the text can be purchased for a
fee, or perhaps they will respond to a 2nd request.  Again, many

Clarification of Answer by voila-ga on 16 Oct 2002 07:53 PDT
Hi again, gpaul, and thanks for your kind 5-star rating.  However, I
won't consider this a satisfactory outcome until I'm sure I've gotten
Sermon 34, 7 into your hands for confirmation.

Posting a private email is, however, against GA policy but what I can
do is give it to the GA editors and they can pass it along.  I'll also
start looking for either ways to purchase this CD or obtain it through
an interlibrary loan.  I'll cetainly be back in touch once I have that
information for you.  If memory serves, I saw this CD collection for
sale at around $60 during my original research travels.

I'll write again as soon as I have further information and I will be
sure to pass along my Villanova email addresses to the GA editors

Thanks again for your patience,

Clarification of Answer by voila-ga on 20 Oct 2002 20:45 PDT
Hi again gpaul,

I thought it might be better to give you the phone numbers so that you
could contact Villanova directly.  Also listed below is ordering
information for the CD-ROM.  I must've been hallucinating with that
$60 price tag; this CD collection is priced at $1,950 {individual}, so
I hope you can access it through either the Villanova, Notre Dame, or
Stanford Libraries.

Please let me know if there's additional information I can provide. 
I'll be glad to work this question until its satisfactory conclusion. 
Really.  It's a pleasure *and* an adventure.

I located several of the links below using the search engine along with Google.

Villanova University (main page)  (610) 519-4500

Villanova Liaison Extensions (Theology and Religious Studies):
Fr. Dennis Gallagher (Ext.  94133) or Darren Poley (Ext.  96371)
Villanova's Falvey Library Phone Numbers by Dept.

Corpus Augustinianum Gissense Reviewed: 

Publishing House Information on the Aluminium:

Ordering Information (Latin Text) 

Early Church Fathers: 

Augustine Texts and Translations: 

The Order of St. Augustine: 

University of Notre Dame Electronic Resources Gateway: 
Acta Sanctorum (Stanford):

Request for Answer Clarification by gpaul-ga on 27 Oct 2002 10:58 PST
I have been able to obtain a printout of paragraph 7 of sermon 34, and
it does in fact have the sought after phrase, so the inquiry is now
complete and I'd like to thank you again for your fine effort in this

Clarification of Answer by voila-ga on 27 Oct 2002 11:42 PST
Oh, I'm so glad we have a winner!  It's really been my sincere
pleasure to help you on this one, gpaul, and let us know if a Google
Answers researcher can help you in the future.  We're standing by to
meet your research needs. ;-)

Have a great one!
gpaul-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
The finest effort that could be asked for!

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