This is a brief outline of what have been suggested are six key elements in the spiritual tradition that is attributed to Augustine.
1. Community, where all interact in the unity of love as brothers and sisters and friends.
In the community there is to be "one mind and one heart on the way to God." (In Latin: Anima una et cor unum ad Deum.) It is in community that Augustine has placed the greatest emphasis of his following of Christ, and everything else he says finds its source and purpose within this emphasis. The community is above all the privileged place where Christ is to be found and experienced.
2. The priority of integral love: love of God, of self and of our fellow humans.
To love is why we were created, and love is our destiny. We must strive to love every person, so as to have even our enemies become our brothers and sisters. This is doubly important, for we will find and love God by loving our neighbour. For this reason, one cannot think of neighbour and self without including God (spiritual tradition, spiritualita), one cannot think of God and self without considering our neighbour (social justice), and one cannot think of God and neighbour without involving self (Christian outreach). Love binds God, neighbour and ourselves in cosmic mystery.
3. The search for God as a concern of both the individual and of the community.
"Lord, our hearts are restless until they rest in You." The individual can seek God within his or her own depths (i.e., the principle of interiority), yet this task is easier if undertaken within a community (for example, a religious community, a college community, a parish community). In a community one senses God in others, and is thus encouraged to continue his or her own inward search. In a community, others reveal to us what God has revealed to them in prayer, study and meditation.
4. Acting as a community, but with due respect for the individual.
Of utmost importance in Christian community is the unity of love, the quest for genuine friendship, the concrete love of neighbour as a clear sign of the love of God, and the search for God as the work of each one and of all together. As well, Augustine insists that each one of us is distinct from the other, that each has his or her own needs, and that each requires a certain freedom within the area of the community. Each member is a servant of the community, and the community is the servant of each member. Getting the balance right requires everyone to maintain a proper balance between his or her personal needs and the common good.
5. Simplicity of lifestyle within a true sharing of the goods of the world.
Materials are placed on earth for our use, not for our misuse. Augustine did not make a virtue of poverty, understood simply as "not possessing". Rather, he insisted on the virtue of sharing what we have as the starting point for a freer search for and possession of that common and sovereign good which is God, and as the way to ensure that the common good be placed ahead of personal advantage. This strongly endorses the adoption of an environmental education and social justice that is based on the Bible.
6. Responsiveness to the mind of the Church: fidelity, openness to the needs of others, evangelical initiatives.
A Christian community wishes to serve as a small church, to be a model that is confident enough to want to attract, encourage and stimulate others to imitate it. Although thus engaged in the local church, a Christian community must not forget the universal mission of Jesus to all people everywhere. This involves a practical concern for the underprivileged and the marginalised, for social justice, and for Christian outreach. AN2242