6. Community23.

"The Augustinian community is basically a group of persons who live their faith, hope and love (RAS, n. 37)." Thus, the Augustinian concept of community cannot be confused with a mere sociological one. The description of the primitive Christian community in Jerusalem as reported in Acts 2:42-46 and 4:32-35 was Augustine’s inspiration. He presented this ideal not only as an example for religious but for lay Christians as well24.

"Community" is not something super-added to an individual’s life as if it were something optional. "Community" is required by human nature: the human being is social; every human life is inextricably linked to other human lives. This social dimension is also an integral element of the Christian life. The Christian is baptized into the Church -- the community of disciples -- which is the Body of Christ. The Church, therefore, becomes the context of the disciple’s new life in Christ. It is the ‘place’ where he, not only experiences the humanity he shares with other human beings, but also that humanity which Christ assumed and redeemed in the incarnation. The Augustinian community is the Church as localized and contextualized in the lives of men and women who are inspired by Augustine’s Jerusalem ideal.

"One mind and one heart intent upon God."

Augustinian community life is described by a statement comprising of two phrases: "One mind and one heart," which derives from Luke’s description of the Jerusalem community, and "in Deum" (= intent upon God25’), Augustine’s special phrase designating the community’s religious intentionality (and therefore, distinguishing it from any other "community"). It is interesting to note that the Lucan phrase "one in mind and heart" is closely linked with the description of the disciples not calling anything their own, selling what they possessed and placing the proceeds at the feet of the apostles who would then distribute them to each as was needed (Acts 2:44; 4:32.33-34). This sharing of goods was understood by Augustine as the visible sign of oneness of mind and heart. The following selection from Augustine’s commentary on Ps. 131 serves to illustrate this point:

My brothers, how many thousands were they who believed, at the time when they brought to the feet of the apostles the price of their goods. And what does Scripture say of them? That they certainly became the temple of God. Not only each one alone, but all of them together, became God’s temple. They thus became a place for the Lord. In order that you may understand that all of them were made into one single place for the Lord, the Scripture says: "They had one mind and one heart intent upon God’ (Acts. 4:32-35). There are many persons who do not create a place for the Lord, because they look out for their own interests; they love their own advantage; they rejoice in their possessions; they seek their personal good. Whoever wants to make a place for the Lord must be content, not with private goods, but with what is common ... My brothers, let us too, abstain from private property at least in a spirit of detachment, if we cannot do it in fact, and we also shall prepare a place for the Lord.

"Sharing of goods" is the same as "working for the common good." By working for the common good, the Augustinian performs his/her duties as service to the Church and to humanity. The subjects "Common Good" and "Service" will be dealt with below (nn. 7 and 8 respectively).

Obedience as Compassion.

Community life is not possible without obedience. For Augustine, the obedience due to authorities (see "Leadership",) is not to be understood as deriving directly from humility, but from mercy and compassion. This idea of obedience must be understood by the way one regards a designated authority within an Augustinian community. Here the "superior" is ‘primus inter pares’ -- first among equals. In this perspective, leadership is enabling and empowering, and government is participative and collegial. Here the ‘superior’ would rather desire to be loved than feared. Obedience therefore is to heed the voice of the one who will be held responsible on my account. It is exercised within an atmosphere of shared responsibilities and trust and carried out in sympathy for the one who will be responsible for each on in the community.