FEast: Aug. 28th
Brewers, teachers, philosophers, writers, breaking habits
Augustine was born in Thagaste, which is now Algeria in Northern Africa. His father was pagan, but his mother, Monica (who became St. Monica) was Christian and tried to raise Augustine as such. However, Augustine was more interested in running around with friends, breaking rules and causing trouble. There is a story about their group stealing fruit not because they were hungry, but just to throw it at pigs! He grew into living a lavish lifestyle full of parties and sex - even resulting in his son, Adeodatus, being born when he was 18 to a woman he then dated for 15 years.
Augustine went to the big city of Carthage, which was a bit above his class, but he was so intelligent that he was able to fit in. When he became a teacher and returned home, he could no longer hide from Monica how he no longer believed in Christianity.
When he decided to go to Italy to teach in a notable role, Monica begged him not to. He lied to her that he wouldn't, and went anyway.
While there, however, he met and attended sermons of St. Ambrose, whose intelligence and perspective began to change the way Augustine viewed the world. The two grew very close and Ambrose even adopted Augustine spiritually after the death of his father. Around this time, Monica also joined him in Rome, and encouraged his studies of Christianity as well.
During this time, Augustine was pressured to marry, but this would mean the end of the his relationship with his son's mother. This really took a toll on him, confessing how deeply he loved her. Staying with her, however, would mean the end of him socially and politically, which meant much to him still at that time.
Augustine broke off his new engagement anyway to pursue instead more studies of knowledge and faith.
One day, when particularly upset over not knowing how to proceed and what God wanted from him, he heard a child singing "Take up and read!" He read a passage in a Bible close to him which convinced him it was a sign to follow Christianity.
He and his friends and his mother went away to a country home where he wrote and they studied together.
Both he and his son Adeodatus were baptized by Ambrose a year later.
Devastatingly, a close friend, Adeodatus, and Monica passed away very quickly after.
Augustine returned to his home in Thagaste and donated his family property. His losses caused him to put all of himself fully into his work. He set to establish a monastery and a lay community.
Augustine did not want to enter religious life himself, however, he was so well-known and loved for his preaching that his community pressured him into it! Despite actual tears, Augustine accepted, and even became bishop not long after.
As a speaker, Augustine used effective speaking tactics for memorable sermons, such as rhymes, word pictures, similes, metaphors, and analogies.
He did not have an easy time in the last few years of life and as bishop. His communities were invaded by Barbarian vandals, bringing with them new branches of Christianity that he had worked hard to debate. Richer citizens fled to Rome, and then later Thagste itself was overwhelmed with refugees. Between fierce battles and disease, Augustine passed away from fever at the age of 75. Later, he was canonized and also declared a Doctor of the Church.
Augustine was one of the first to write on subjects such as the evil of the slave trade and slavery itself, the idea that women raped in war were not guilty but victims, and that gossip was hurtful and vicious.
Never allow us to believe that we cannot change, that there is anything we are unworthy of, or
that we are too far gone for what we desire most. God chose you, despite living in such a way most
would believe was beyond reconciling. You showed us we are never lost, unloved, or too broken to be who we desire to be, grant us the strength to change.
A m e n .
Clad in a certainly studious sweater vest while maintaining some flair with hair dye, St. Augustine needed the look of someone who has learned but also lived through so many changes. His expression is confident, but also curious. He may be about to speak, but he's listening always. He's a loving dad who has made mistakes, but just wants to live however he can for his new faith.