Saint Augustine is unquestionably the greatest Father of our Western Church. Systematically organized translations of his many writings are appearing in all different languages. With the present volume, the Augustinians of Villanova are courageously undertaking to make the vast treasures of this spiritual heritage available to the educated English speaking public. The series begins with the "Sermons to the People." The text here translated has a solid scientific basis, the beginnings of which are to be found in the imposing work of the Maurists, the French Benedictines of the seventeenth century who displayed so much genius in restoring the original Latin text of 361 authentic sermons of Saint Augustine. The text also reflects, however, susequent scientific works, especially those produced by the persevering labor of other scholars closer to our time: Dom Germain Morin, Dom Andrew Wilmart, and Dom Cyrille Lambot. The present generation has continued the work, and today we can count 548 authentic sermons, complete or fragmentary, of Saint Augustine. Even so, it seems that we have only one-tenth or even only one-fourteenth of all Augustine's sermons. We can, however, always hope for new discoveries. All this, and much else besides, is set forth in the outstanding introduction by Cardinal Michele Pellegrino. The chronological table of the sermons complements what is said there and brings it abreast of the most recent findings. In order to grasp properly the originality of a truly extraordinary personality, it is recommended that one read the person's autobiography or memoirs; it is often in such writings tha the or she is best revealed. In the case of Saint Augustine, it is clearly in his Confessions that we find the best key to him. Among his extremely numerous works, his Sermons to the People, which span almost forty years, are most effective in tracing for us the way in which he related to others. Before being a writer, orator, philosopher, and theologian, Augustine was a bishop for his people, undoubtedly the greatest our Church has ever known. And he has not yet finished teaching us.
The reflections contained in A Season of Rebirth invite us to ponder our lives and to open our listening hearts to the voice of God so that our Lent can truly be a Lent in its deepest sense mdash; a spring that buds forth new life.