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The commemoration of St. Augustine will be celebrated in many churches this coming Sunday. How much to you know about this man from the early church?
St. Augustine is considered by many scholars to be the most important figure in the ancient Western church. St. Augustine was a very busy 5th century Catholic bishop of a prosperous town in North Africa, called Hippo, in what is today Algeria. He was born in North Africa. His mother was a Christian, but his father remained a pagan until late in life.
After a rather unremarkable childhood, Augustine drifted through several philosophical systems before converting to Christianity at the age of thirty-one. During this time, Augustine fathered a child by a mistress. This period of exploration, including its youthful excesses are recorded in Augustine’s most widely read work, the Confessions.
Returning to his homeland soon after his conversion, he was ordained in 391, taking the position as bishop of Hippo in 396, a position, which he held until his death.
Augustine was a man of great intelligence, a fierce defender of the orthodox faith, and a prolific writer. In addition to the book Confessions, Augustine’s book City of God had a great impact upon the church throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance. He used his writing to develop early Christian doctrine.
St. Augustine wrote many words of wisdom we still find in literature today. Here are only a few:
“Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.”
“Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”
“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”
“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”
“You aspire to great things? Begin with little ones.”
“Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.”
“Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature.”
And perhaps the most quoted one:
“Thou hast created us for Thyself, and our heart is not quiet until it rests in Thee.”
I like his prayer, which is a great way to end today’s post:
“O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams.”
Do you have a favorite St. Augustine quote or which of the one above resonate the most with you?