The difference between Weak Christians and Ill Christians (by St Augustine)

In the Office of Readings (LOTH) for this morning, St Augustine speaks of wicket Catholic priests, but specifically the difference between “weak” and “sick” Christians. I was humbled to learn that I am, in fact, a “weak Christian,” and have a very long way to go. 
Weak Christians desire to live a holy life and do good works; however, they are “weak” in that they are not willing to suffer hardships and setbacks. They want to be holy, but only if they can be “pain free” saints. The weak Christian is willing to pray the Rosary, feed the poor, attend Holy Mass, tithe, etc, but he is not willing to suffer for and with Christ. When tribulations arrive, he becomes angry with God for “rewarding” his presumed piety with temporal pain.
Sick or ill Christians, on the other hand, desire pleasure and worldly attachments so much that they are unwilling to do good works or obey the positive law of God. These are Christians in name only. They confess the name of Christ but they do not attend Holy Mass or seek to obey God’s law. Perhaps this is Augustine’s way of speaking of “Christmas and Easter Catholics.”
Here is the holy bishop of Hippo in his own words:

You have failed to strengthen the weak, says the Lord. He is speaking to wicked shepherds, false shepherds, shepherds who seek their own concerns and not those of Christ. They enjoy the bounty of milk and wool, but they take no care at all of the sheep, and they make no effort to heal those who are ill. I think there is a difference between one who is weak (that is, not strong) and one who is ill, although we often say that the weak are also suffering from illness.

  My brothers, when I try to make that distinction, perhaps I could do it better and with greater precision, or perhaps someone with more experience and insight could do so. But when it comes to the words of Scripture, I say what I think so that in the meantime you will not be deprived of all profit. In the case of the weak sheep, it is to be feared that the temptation, when it comes, may break him. The sick person, however, is already ill by reason of some illicit desire or other, and this is keeping him from entering God’s path and submitting to Christ’s yoke.

  There are men who want to live a good life and have already decided to do so, but are not capable of bearing sufferings even though they are ready to do good. Now it is a part of the Christian’s strength not only to do good works but also to endure evil. Weak men are those who appear to be zealous in doing good works but are unwilling or unable to endure the sufferings that threaten. Lovers of the world, however, who are kept from good works by some evil desire, lie sick and listless, and it is this sickness that deprives them of any strength to accomplish good works.

  The paralytic was like that. When his bearers could not bring him in to the Lord, they opened the roof and lowered him down to the feet of Christ. Perhaps you wish to do this in spirit: to open the roof and to lower a paralytic soul down to the Lord. All its limbs are lifeless, it is empty of every good work, burdened with its sins, and weak from the illness brought on by its evil desires. Since all its limbs are helpless, and the paralysis is interior, you cannot come to the physician. But perhaps the physician is himself concealed within; for the true understanding of Scripture is hidden. Reveal therefore what is hidden, and thus you will open the roof and lower the paralytic to the feet of Christ.

  As for those who fail to do this and those who are negligent, you have heard what was said to them: You have failed to heal the sick; you have failed to bind up what was broken. Of this we have already spoken. Man was broken by terrible temptations. But there is at hand a consolation that will bind what was broken: God is faithful. He does not allow you to be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Saint Augustine pray for us.

Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine.

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