Saturday, January 13, 2007

Who am I? - time to reveal his identity...

All that remains of Christian Hippo

A gentle comment from one of our avid readers has reminded me that it's about time I revealed the identity of our mystery person. His name, as most of you have realised by now, is Aurelius Augustine. Reading his life, isn't it true that he could have lived in our times? He faces the same difficulties that today's young people experience. He asks the same questions.

St Augustine was born in 354AD in Thagaste, North Africa. His mother, Monica, exercised a decisive influence over her son through her prayers, her example and her counsel. It was she who, when dying in Ostia on the way back to Africa, told her son to bury her there: "all I ask is that you remember me before the altar of God". What a great service a priest performs for his parents in the celebration of Holy Mass. Augustine's father, Patrick, was a pagan but he was baptised on his death bed. The whole story we've recounted on this Blog can be found in Augustine's autobiography, his Confessions.

St Augustine's encounter with Christ changed his life. From that moment all the gifts he had used to corrupt himself and to corrupt others through his disordered lifestyle, were directed towards doing good. He became a coherent Christian not a light one.

Christ changed his life. He converted in 386 and lived until 430AD. Through the grace of Christ he overcame the obstacles within his own nature which once seemed to him insuperable. He abandoned his scepticism and he began teaching wholeheartedly the Truth he had discovered. He wrote dozens of books, was ordained a priest and later became Bishop of Hippo, a city he managed to transform into a great Christian centre. He defended the truth with all his might.

Despite his unpromising beginning, St Augustine is now one of the great figures in the history of Christianity. He is a man of his time, and also a man of our time. His influence on European culture was decisive. Today he is considered one of the Fathers of the Church and the founder of the Philosophy of History.

He was a man who had great natural gifts: intelligence, sensitivity, vitality, will, style, etc. But we have seen how little they served him when he was far from God - he couldn't be happy. Only when he embraced God did he begin to live the fulness of his human life.

Aurelius Augustine was faithful to the grace of God from his conversion to the end of his life. He cooperated heroically - to the point of sanctity - with God's grace. He is a great saint of the Catholic Church and is extolled by posterity: by theologians, scientists, historians, writers, mystics, moralists, sociologists, philosophers... Thousands upon thousands of men have been called Augustine in his honour, and throughout the centuries countless women have been called Monica after his saintly mother.

You can read his life story in the Confessions. But first, let me ask you some questions...
  • Who are you? Are you happy being an inconspicuous nobody? Or will you let God do something with your life?
  • Are your really seeking the Truth?
  • Do you aspire to being a personal friend of God?
  • Would you dare pcik up the Gospels and read them?
  • Do you have the courage to look Jesus in the eyes?
  • Do you dare start chatting with God?
  • Will you start thinking for yourself (seriously - not serially!)?

Don't forget what St Augustine teaches us: "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless til they rest in Thee".


Augustinus said...

Thank you, Father, for confirming Augustine's identity.

Fr Stephen said...

You're welcome. Phase two will be to draw some lessons about the difference between Catholicism light & full-on faith...

Fr Julian Green said...

Thank God for St Augustine the hero of the Anti-Pelagian fight. Excellent series of questions.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for confirming his identity - from the same 'anonymous' with this from the start. I've ordered a couple of extra books on Augustine since getting your posting began....just need to read them now....may be he could become the official patron of this blog?