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Saint Augustine
Order of Saint Augustine ^ | 2000 | John Rotelle-Book of Augustinian

Posted on 08/28/2002 4:22:27 PM PDT by Lady In Blue


A Spiritual Psalter(Saint Ephraim)

A fountain full of waters constantly flowing and abundantly giving drink to all who come portrays the abundance of Thine inexhaustible compassion,O Lord

Plentifully dost Thou nourish the heavenly powers and provide food for all that breathes on earth.Thy love, which desires our salvation, condescends to us in order to bring us to herself and to save those who come to her.

Thou, O Master, art omniscient and seest the resolve with which a man turns from sin. And before he comes to the door, Thou dost open it for him. Before he falls at Thy feet, Thou dost stretch out Thine hand to him. Before he sheds tears, Thou bestowest upon him Thy compassion. Before he confesses his debts, Thou grantest him forgiveness.

Saint Augustine

o the world at large, Saint Augustine is known above all as the great thinker who peacefully influenced philosophy and theology, the thrust of the spirituality of the Latin Church, and the development of apostolic endeavors. The source from which he drew the great strength for his achievements should not be overlooked: his monastic ideal of the search for God and contemplation.

Augustine was born in Tagaste, about fifty miles from Hippo in North Africa, in 354. His father. Patricius, was a minor Roman official who became Christian only at the end of his life. His mother, Monica, was deeply committed to the Catholic faith. Neither parent was a saint in the beginning; Monica became one in trying to bring her son to the Lord.

Like many middle-class parents, they were extremely interested in their son's education. If his parents appear rather ordinary and perhaps disturbingly familiar, Augustine brings them quite remarkably to life in his writings. He praises his father for going beyond his means to supply what was necessary for his son's studies. Of Monica, Augustine tells us that she wept more for his spiritual death than most mothers weep for the bodily death of their children. "For she saw that I was dead by that faith and spirit which she had from you, and you heard her, O Lord." He also relates how a local bishop once turned away Monica's plea that he have a talk with her son with this comment;" Go your way and God will bless you, for it is not possible that the son of these tears should perish." She accepted the answer, says Augustine, as though it were a voice from heaven.

More than a few mothers have been able to identify with Monica, at least with the general outlines of her concerns. She had a wayward son who not only rejected the Church in which he had been enrolled as a catechumen, but was living a life which in many ways was a dissolute and immoral one. What a supreme irony it must have been for Monica when Augustine, at his mother's behest, tore himself from his common-law wife to prepare for marriage to a "pleasing maiden," only to grow impatient with celibacy and take another concubine. Fortunately, God seemed to have given Monica a remarkable degree of persistence.

From the ages of eighteen to twenty-seven, Augustine lived a live of which, he says, caused him much shame. "For in this lay my sin, that not in him but in his creatures, I myself and the rest sought for pleasures, honors, and truths, falling thereby into sorrows, troubles, and errors." Augustine did earn a living, opening a school of rhetoric. In those days rhetoric was the study of philosophy as well as skill in speaking, and this required Augustine to be familiar with the intellectual currents of his day and the writings of earlier times. He also became involved with the Manichees, a sect to which he gave decreasing allegiance over a period of nine years, as it became apparent to him that its leaders were unable to provide satisfactory answers to his probing questions. Still, Manicheism was a religion and, in its own way, a step closer to the faith.

Equally important was his deepening interest in Latin literature. This led him to Rome and eventually to Milan, where he had won the post of professor of rhetoric. He was by now a professional success and a personal wreck. Unhappy with his lifestyle, dissatisfied with Manicheeism, "gnawed within." As he put it, by a hunger he could not explain, Augustine was a disturbed young man. But in choosing Milan he had gone to precisely the right place. Milan was a city of a great bishop of the Catholic Church, Saint Ambrose. He was known throughout the world as a courageous leader and brilliant exponent of Catholic dogma. Augustine, with Monica at his side, went to hear Ambrose preach, at first only to listen to his eloquence. Yet he was led to a new understanding of the Bible and of the Christian faith by the bishop's explanations. The scriptures, which has seemed to him to be "old wives' tales," now seemed to come alive. It was the beginning of the end of Augustine's former self. Something was happening. This is his account of what happened when he and his friend Alypius went to pray in a garden in Milan:

I was suddenly asking myself these questions, weeping all the while with the most bitter sorrow in my heart, when all at once I heard a sing-song voice of a child in a nearby house. Whether it as the voice of a boy or a girl I cannot say, but again and again it repeated the refrain "Take and read, take and read." At this I looked up, thinking hard whether there was any kind of game in which children used to chant words like these, but I could not remember ever hearing them before. I stemmed the flood of tears and stood up, telling myself that this could only be a divine command to open my book of scripture and read the first passage on which my eyes should fall. So I hurried back to the place where Alypius was sitting, for when I stood up to move away I had put down the book containing Paul's epistles. I seized it and opened it, and in silence I read the first passage on which my eyes fell: "Not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarrelling and jealousy. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh (Romans 13:13-14)." I had no wish to read more and no need to do so. For in an instant, as I came to the end of the sentence, it was as though the light of confidence flooded into my heart and all the darkness of doubt was dispelled.

During the fall of the year 386, Augustine, having turned away totally from a life of sin, resigned his teaching position and began his preparation for baptism. Bishop Ambrose baptized him during the Easter vigil in 387, along with Augustine's son Adeodatus, then fifteen. On the way back to Africa, Augustine and his mother were delayed in Ostia, where Monica fell ill and died, happy and at peace.

Having found the truth at last, Augustine, in characteristic fashion, sought to embrace it fully. Back in Tagaste, he shared a house with companions who, like himself, had turned away from the world. They observed rules of discipline and personal poverty, did manual work, and spent much of their time in dialogue debating questions of the faith.

Here was the nucleus of the fellowship perpetuated today in Augustinian communities throughout the world. It seemed to Augustine that his days of working and traveling were over. But God had other plans for his servant.

In the time of Augustine, talented persons were pressed into the service of the Church, frequently despite their heated or tearful objections. It happened in this way to Augustine while he was on a visit to Hippo. The aged bishop of Hippo, Valerius, was looking for an assistant, and both he and his people decided that they wanted Augustine. He at first declined the honor but finally accepted it for the good of the Church. When the bishop died five years late, Augustine took his place. His life and those of many others would never be the same again.

From 396 to 430, the man who now desire above all else, "complete detachment from the tumult of transient things" was one of the busiest and most productive men in the world. Like any priest or bishop, he ministered to the spiritual needs of his people. He functioned as a civil magistrate at a time when this was a part of the job of being bishop. He traveled to meetings and councils, some forty to fifty journeys in thirty-five years as a bishop. He went to the metropolitan see in Carthage, a trip which took nine days, some twenty or thirty times. He was often gone from Hippo for four or five months at a time. He defended the Church, The record of his debate with Felix the Manichean in the church at Hippo tells us that when the debate was over, Felix was converted. Above all, he kept up extensive writing, which was his principal output, his main means for expounding the faith. In all, he produced over two hundred books and nearly a thousand sermons, letters, and treatises.

Among these many writings was the Confessions, an immensely popular book which has been read, meditated upon, and imitated by many generations. One of his greatest literary works, The City of God, was occasioned by the sacking of Rome by armies in the year 410. This was a devastating blow to the ancient world. Many asserted that the great city had been destroyed because so many Romans abandoned the pagan gods in favor of Christianity, which was powerless to protect them. Augustine set forth to demolish that argument in a monumental book that appeared in installments over thirteen years. Its fundamental thesis is that the ultimate importance of a "city" is not measured by its temporal significance, for in fact there are only two cities that really matter.

Augustine had expressed the most profound existential choice that can confront a human being. It is as valid now as ever. One must either place one's trust in God, or place it elsewhere. On this issue, there is no middle ground.

Augustine's demanding responsibilities never induced him to abandon his monastic ideal. Until his last hour he remained inflexibly a monk. As a priest, he founded a monastery on a portion of the church grounds given to him for this purpose by Bishop Valerius. As a bishop, he turned his Episcopal residence into a monastery in which the members of his household lived the common life. The monastic ideal of Saint Augustine came to full fruition centuries later when numerous religious communities which adopted his Rule sprang up. They became a powerful force in evangelization, preaching the gospel to the poor in the cities, bringing the Good News to the New World, defending the faith in the pulpits and in universities, taking the initiative in founding schools, orphanages, and hospitals, and doing other works of charity.

In the year 430, four years after The City of God had been completed, Augustine fell ill, while a Vandal horde laid siege to the gate of Hippo. He placed the penitential psalms of David near his bed and spent his final days in prayer, urging his brethren to preserve his library and his other works. The monastic foundations he established were eventually destroyed, but his spiritual heritage has become the world's common property.

Saint Augustine died on 28 August 430. His feast is celebrated throughout the Church on 28 August.

Rotelle, John, Book of Augustinian Saints, Augustinian Press 2000
The icon of St. Augustine is courtesy of Light of Christ Monastery
Augustine the Writer by Botticelli
University of Pennsylvania web site on St. Augustine

TOPICS: General Discusssion
KEYWORDS: catholiclist; confessions
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Saint Jerome(left)and Saint Augustine(right)




Conversion to Christ. Augustine is deeply impressed by Simplicianus' story of the conversion to Christ of the famous orator and philosopher, Marius Victorinus. He is stirred to emulate him, but finds himself still enchained by his incontinence and preoccupation with worldly affairs. He is then visited by a court official, Ponticianus, who tells him and Alypius the stories of the conversion of Anthony and also of two imperial "secret service agents." These stories throw him into a violent turmoil, in which his divided will struggles against himself. He almost succeeds in making the decision for continence, but is still held back. Finally, a child's song, overheard by chance, sends him to the Bible; a text from Paul resolves the crisis; the conversion is a fact. Alypius also makes his decision, and the two inform the rejoicing Monica.


1. O my God, let me remember with gratitude and confess to thee thy mercies toward me. Let my bones be bathed in thy love, and let them say: "Lord, who is like unto thee?[231] Thou hast broken my bonds in sunder, I will offer unto thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving."[232] And how thou didst break them I will declare, and all who worship thee shall say, when they hear these things: "Blessed be the Lord in heaven and earth, great and wonderful is his name."[233]

Thy words had stuck fast in my breast, and I was hedged round about by thee on every side. Of thy eternal life I was now certain, although I had seen it "through a glass darkly."[234] And I had been relieved of all doubt that there is an incorruptible substance and that it is the source of every other substance. Nor did I any longer crave greater certainty about thee, but rather greater steadfastness in thee.

But as for my temporal life, everything was uncertain, and my heart had to be purged of the old leaven. "The Way"--the Saviour himself--pleased me well, but as yet I was reluctant to pass through the strait gate.

And thou didst put it into my mind, and it seemed good in my own sight, to go to Simplicianus, who appeared to me a faithful servant of thine, and thy grace shone forth in him. I had also been told that from his youth up he had lived in entire devotion to thee. He was already an old man, and because of his great age, which he had passed in such a zealous discipleship in thy way, he appeared to me likely to have gained much wisdom--and, indeed, he had. From all his experience, I desired him to tell me--setting before him all my agitations--which would be the most fitting way for one who felt as I did to walk in thy way.

2. For I saw the Church full; and one man was going this way and another that. Still, I could not be satisfied with the life I was living in the world. Now, indeed, my passions had ceased to excite me as of old with hopes of honor and wealth, and it was a grievous burden to go on in such servitude. For, compared with thy sweetness and the beauty of thy house--which I loved--those things delighted me no longer. But I was still tightly bound by the love of women; nor did the apostle forbid me to marry, although he exhorted me to something better, wishing earnestly that all men were as he himself was.

But I was weak and chose the easier way, and for this single reason my whole life was one of inner turbulence and listless indecision, because from so many influences I was compelled--even though unwilling--to agree to a married life which bound me hand and foot. I had heard from the mouth of Truth that "there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake"[235] but, said he, "He that is able to receive it, let him receive it." Of a certainty, all men are vain who do not have the knowledge of God, or have not been able, from the good things that are seen, to find him who is good. But I was no longer fettered in that vanity. I had surmounted it, and from the united testimony of thy whole creation had found thee, our Creator, and thy Word--God with thee, and together with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God--by whom thou hast created all things. There is still another sort of wicked men, who "when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful."[236] Into this also I had fallen, but thy right hand held me up and bore me away, and thou didst place me where I might recover. For thou hast said to men, "Behold the fear of the Lord, this is wisdom,"[237] and, "Be not wise in your own eyes,"[238] because "they that profess themselves to be wise become fools."[239] But I had now found the goodly pearl; and I ought to have sold all that I had and bought it--yet I hesitated.

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1 posted on 08/28/2002 4:22:27 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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To: *Catholic_list; father_elijah; Salvation; Siobhan; nickcarraway; NYer; JMJ333
2 posted on 08/28/2002 4:25:01 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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3 posted on 08/28/2002 4:43:22 PM PDT by independentmind
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To: Lady In Blue
Bump to read later.
4 posted on 08/28/2002 4:44:27 PM PDT by Salvation
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To: Lady In Blue
St. Augustine is a great saint to petition about the heresy we have been experiencing around here lately. As mentioned in the post, he refuted the Manichaen heresy [at one time had fallen in with the sect]. In book three of his Confessions, Augustine explains the fantasies the Manichaens offered when he hungered for real food, especially their corporal notion of God. His work against the Manichees was strong enough to keep the sect small until the heresy reared its head again in the High Middle Ages when it became known as Albignensianism.
5 posted on 08/28/2002 6:00:54 PM PDT by JMJ333
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To: Salvation
Thanks,Salvation for the bump.
6 posted on 08/28/2002 7:53:36 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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To: JMJ333
Thanks,JMJ333! Sounds like you have read a lot of St.Augustine.Have you ever read his "City of God"? What's it like? I think I'd like to get a copy of it.What's your favorite work by St.Augustine? Thanks.
7 posted on 08/28/2002 7:56:10 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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To: Lady In Blue
I read City of God. I liked it, but it can be a little dry at times and also a bit complicated. I had to read some sections twice.

Here is a link to "City of God" online. Hope you enjoy it!

City of God

8 posted on 08/28/2002 8:06:19 PM PDT by JMJ333
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To: JMJ333
Well,isn't that something?! It just goes to prove that you can find nearly anything online! LOL! Thanks a lot! I'll check it out.
9 posted on 08/29/2002 7:43:11 PM PDT by Lady In Blue
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To: Lady In Blue
BTTT on August 28, 2003
10 posted on 08/28/2003 8:14:59 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: JMJ333


Saint Augustine of Hippo

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. 

Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. 

Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. 

Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. 

Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. 


11 posted on 08/28/2003 8:44:05 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Lady In Blue
Saint Augustine is proof that it is never too late to return (or turn) to God.
12 posted on 08/28/2003 5:47:51 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Lady In Blue

BTTT on 08-28-04

13 posted on 08/28/2004 7:54:08 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: father_elijah; nickcarraway; SMEDLEYBUTLER; Siobhan; Lady In Blue; attagirl; goldenstategirl; ...
Saint of the Day Ping!

Please notify me via FReepmail if you would like to be added to or taken off the Saint of the Day Ping List.

14 posted on 08/28/2004 9:48:06 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation


Did you know that 52 of the 55 signers
of "the Declaration of Independance
were committed, Christians?
The three believed in:
the Bible as divine truth,
the God of scripture,
and His personal intervention.

Did you know it was this same Congress
that formed the American Bible Society?
Immediately after creating the
Declaration of Independence the
Continental Congress voted to purchase
and import 20,000 copies of scripture
for the people of this nation.

Patrick Henry, who is called the
firebrand of the American Revolution,
is still remembered for his words,
"Give me liberty or give me death";
but did you know the context of those words?
Here is what he actually said:
"An appeal to arms and the God of
hosts is all that is left us.
But we shall not fight our battle alone.
There is a just God who presides
over the destinies of nations.
The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone.
Is life so dear or peace so sweet
as to be purchased at the price
of chains and slavery?
Forbid it Almighty God.
I know not what course others may take,
but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death."

Did you know in 1776 Patrick Henry wrote this?
"It cannot be emphasised too strongly or too often
that this great nation was founded
not by religionists, but by Christians;
not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
For that reason alone,
people of other faiths have been
afforded freedom of worship here."

Did you know, in the front of his well worn Bible,
Thomas Jefferson wrote this?
"I am a real Christian, that is to say,
a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus.
I have little doubt that our whole country will
soon be rallied to the unity of our creator."
He was also chairman of the American Bible Society,
which he considered his highest and most important role.

Did you know on July 4, 1821, President Adams said,
"The highest glory of the American Revolution was this:
'It connected in one indissoluble bond
the principles of civil government with
the principles of Christianity.'"
And that President Calvin Coolidge
reaffirmed this truth when he wrote,
"The foundations of our government
and our society rest so much on the
teachings of the Bible that it would be
difficult to support them if faith in
these teachings would cease to be
universal in our country."

15 posted on 08/28/2004 4:35:58 PM PDT by Smartass (BUSH & CHENEY 2004 Si vis pacem, para bellum - Por el dedo de Dios se escribió)
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To: JMJ333; Lady In Blue

Confessions is on line in a couple of places, too! Isn't the Internet lovely sometimes!

16 posted on 08/28/2004 5:44:41 PM PDT by hummingbird ("If it wasn't for the insomnia, I could have gotten some sleep!")
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To: Lady In Blue

Memorial of St. Augustine is supressed by the Sunday liturgy. BTTT on 08-28-05!

17 posted on 08/28/2005 8:22:02 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Lady In Blue

BTTT on the Memorial of St. Augustine, August 28, 2006!

18 posted on 08/28/2006 7:40:12 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Lady In Blue
Among these many writings

No kidding. The cheapest complete set of his writings is about $1000 if you want that for your home library.

19 posted on 08/28/2006 7:43:09 AM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the law of the excluded middle)
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To: Lady In Blue

Saint Augustine,
Bishop & Doctor of the Church
August 28th

Saint Ambrose baptizing Saint Augustine
Benozzo Gozzoli (1464-65)
Apsidal chapel, Sant'Agostino, San Gimignano, Italy

"Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord"
Augustine opens his Confessions with praise of God, and follows this with of the best-known passages in all of Christian literature -- his introductory observations about man's restless search for God.

Prayers, readings - Excerpt from "Confessions" - Recipe

Augustine, one of the most influential thinkers in the entire history of the Church, was born at Tagaste, North Africa, on November 13, 354. His father, Patricius, a city official was not a Christian, though his mother, Monica, was a woman of strong Christian faith. (She eventually led her husband to be baptized, and he died a holy death circa 371.)

Though Augustine received a Christian upbringing, he led a very dissolute life as a youth and young man, according to his "Confessions". Augustine gives an account of his spiritual development in the first nine Books of the "Confessions" -- a work that has engrossed readers for 1600 years, and are as fresh and immediate today as when they were written.

As a nineteen-year old student at Carthage, he espoused the Manichaean heresy, a form of Gnosticism founded in Persia in the late third century, which claimed to be a religion of reason as contrasted with Christianity, a religion of faith. Manichaeism aimed to synthesize all known religions. Its basic dualistic tenet is that there are two equal and opposed Principles ("gods") in the universe: Good (Light/Spirit) and Evil (Darkness/Matter).

After nearly ten years as a Manichaean, Augustine, who taught in Milan, visited Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, became a regular attendant at his preachings, and through his influence became convinced that Catholic teachings are true, and that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. Still, he found himself conflicted -- unwilling to give up his desire to satisfy his sexual lusts.

An interview with Simplicianus, spiritual father of St. Ambrose , who told Augustine the story of the conversion of the celebrated neo-Platonic rhetorician, Victorinus (Confessions, VIII, i, ii), and later, a chance visit by a Christian, Ponticianus, who told him of other conversions, led Augustine to a crisis:

I was greatly disturbed in spirit, angry at myself with a turbulent indignation because I had not entered thy will and covenant, O my God, while all my bones cried out to me to enter, extolling it to the skies. The way therein is not by ships or chariots or feet--indeed it was not as far as I had come from the house to the place where we were seated. For to go along that road and indeed to reach the goal is nothing else but the will to go. But it must be a strong and single will, not staggering and swaying about this way and that--a changeable, twisting, fluctuating will, wrestling with itself while one part falls as another rises. (Confessions, Book VIII.8.19)

I was ... weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when suddenly I heard the voice of a boy or a girl I know not which--coming from the neighboring house, chanting over and over again, "Pick it up, read it; pick it up, read it."[260] Immediately I ceased weeping and began most earnestly to think whether it was usual for children in some kind of game to sing such a song, but I could not remember ever having heard the like. So, damming the torrent of my tears, I got to my feet, for I could not but think that this was a divine command to open the Bible and read the first passage I should light upon. ...

So I quickly returned to the bench where Alypius was sitting, for there I had put down the apostle's book [Paul's letter to the Romans] when I had left there. I snatched it up, opened it, and in silence read the paragraph on which my eyes first fell: "Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof."[Romans 13:13] I wanted to read no further, nor did I need to. For instantly, as the sentence ended, there was infused in my heart something like the light of full certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away. (Confessions, Book IX.29)

Augustine was thirty-three when he was moved to act on his convictions in that garden at Milan in September, 386. A few weeks later, during the autumn "vintage" holiday, Augustine, resigned his professorship at Milan, resolving to devote himself to the pursuit of true philosophy, now inseparable from Christianity. After a vacation at Cassisiacum, Augustine returned to Milan with Monica, Adeodatus (his son) , and his friends, where the new converts were baptized. Soon after, while preparing to return to North Africa with her sons and grandson, Monica died at Ostia, near Rome. (A moving account of her final days is found in Confessions Book IX, 8-12)

Augustine returned to Africa in August 388, and, with the objective of living a life of poverty and prayer, he sold his property and gave the proceeds to the poor. Although he did not think of becoming a priest, during a visit to Hippo, as he was praying in the church, people suddenly gathered around him and persuaded the bishop of Hippo, Valerius, to ordain Augustine. He was ordained in 391, and in Tagaste, established a monastery, and preached against Manichaeism with great success. When he was forty-two, he becme co-adjutor bishop Hippo, where he was bishop for thirty-four years.

During his years as bishop, Augustine combatted the Manichaean heresy, strongly affirming free will and expounding on the problem of evil; he struggled against the Donatist heresy that attacked the divine institution and hierchical nature of the Church. In later years he would confront the Pelagian heresy that denied the doctrine of original sin and the effects of grace; and the heresy of Arianism, which denied that the Son is of the same substance as the Father.

Augustine died August 28, 430 at the age of seventy-five. His perennial contribution to and influence on Catholic doctrine and thought and on Christian belief and piety is incalculable, and his many theological and philosophical works, especially the Confessions and the City of God have continuee to captivate and inspire mankind for more than fifteen-hundred years.

20 posted on 08/28/2007 7:14:28 AM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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