Tuesday, October 16, 2012

St Augustine, from the Confessions

CCC § 45 Man is made to live in communion with God in whom he finds happiness: When I am completely united to you, there will be no more sorrow or trials; entirely full of you, my life will be complete. (St. Augustine, Conf. 10, 28, 39: PL 32, 795).
This goes back to my post from the other day, on man's purpose from CCC § 27.

St Augustine has quite a history. He was born to a Christian mother (whom I shall return to) and a pagan father, and was sent to school to become a very smart cookie. Augustine was skilled at rhetoric and grammar, which he taught for many years, eventually using it in his sermons. He was intensely interested in philosophy. Herein lies a problem: his intelligence drew him towards Manicheanism,  and Augustine began living with a woman who gave birth to his son ("Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet!". This upset his mother, St Monica, very greatly, and she prayed for his return to the Church. Finally, he came back to the Church, after a profound conversion through hearing about the Desert Fathers and reading the Epistle of St Paul to the Romans. St Ambrose of Milan baptized Augustine and his son, and they returned to Africa, though without his mother who died in Italy, though at least she lived to see her son come home! This account is contained in his Confessions, of which the above quote is an extract from, via the CCC. Augustine became Bishop of Hippo, which is in North Africa.

Jaume Huguet's  The Consecration of St Augustine,
 from Wikipedia
St Augustine is useful for our own time (I mean, all the saints are, but particular saints are more connected than others). His hedonism mirrors today's cultural paradigm, and his de Civitate Dei should serve as a marker for our efforts on Earth in drawing ourselves towards Christ as a society. It's also a cool marker of the development of both Christian thought and post-Classical Latin.

St. Augustine, pray for us!
St Monica, pray for us!

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