Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Saint Augustine of Hippo
Saint Augustine was born in Tagaste in modern Algeria. This famous son of Saint Monica spent many years living a wicked life and in false beliefs. He was one of the most intelligent persons who ever lived.
Augustine was brought up in a Christian atmosphere by his mother. He became so proud and bad that in the end he could not see or understand holy truths anymore. His mother Monica prayed daily for her son's conversion. The marvelous sermons of Saint Ambrose made their impact too. Finally, Augustine became convinced that Christianity was the true religion.
Yet he did not become a Christian then, because he thought he could never live a pure life. One day, he heard about two men who had suddenly changed and became good Christians after reading the life of Saint Anthony of the Desert.
Augustine felt ashamed. "What are we doing?" he cried to his friend Alipius. "Unlearned people are taking heaven by force. Yet we, with all our knowledge, are so weak that we keep rolling around in the mud of our sins!" Full of bitter sorrow, Augustine went into the garden and prayed, "How much longer, Lord? Why don't I stop committing sins now?" Just then he heard a child singing, "Take up and read!"
Thinking that God wanted him to hear those words, he picked up the Bible and opened it. His eyes fell on Saint Paul's letter to the Romans, chapter 13. It was just what Augustine needed. Paul says to stop living bad lives and to live like Jesus. That did it! From then on, Augustine began a new life.
He was baptized and ordained a priest and later became a bishop. He was a famous Catholic writer and started the Augustinian order. He became one of the greatest Saints who ever lived.
On the wall of his room, he had the following sentence written in large letters: "Here we do not speak evil of anyone." Saint Augustine corrected strong false teachings, lived a simple life and cared for the poor.
He preached very often, and prayed with great feeling right up until his death. "Too late have I loved you," he once cried to God. "Our hearts were made for You, Lord, and they are restless until they rest in You."
Augustine spent the rest of his life in loving God and leading others to love him, too.
Lord, renew in Your Church the spirit which You inspired in Saint Augustine, Your Bishop. Filled by this spirit, may we thirst after You as the true Source of wisdom.