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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Saint Augustine - August 28

Saint Augustine
August 28
Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
(Saint Augustine, Confessions)

Yesterday we celebrated the feast day of Saint Monica, today is the feast day of her son, Saint Augustine.  His life is best studied and understood by reading The Confessions.  The following are the opening lines from some of the chapters of this book, which is his autobiography. His confessions and the Grace of God touch my soul as I am reminded of my ongoing journey from darkness (attachment to sin) into the light (attachment to Truth and trust in God).      

Book 1
Infancy to Age Fifteen

“You are great, O Lord, and greatly to be praised. Great is your power, and your wisdom is infinite….You awake us to delight in your praise; for you made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Book 2
Object of These Confessions

“I will now call to mind my past foulness and the carnal corruptions of my soul, not because I love them, but that I may love you. O my God. For love of your love I do it, reviewing my most wicked ways in the very bitterness of my memory, so that you may grow sweeter to me…gathering me again from my dissipation in which I was torn to shreds while I was alienated from you, the one Good. I wasted myself among a multiplicity of things.”

Book 3
From Age Sixteen to Eighteen

“I came to Carthage, where a cauldron of unholy loves bubbled up all around me. I did not yet love, but I loved to love…So I polluted the waters of friendship with my unclean appetite…foul and dishonorable as I was, I wanted, through my great vanity, to be elegant and courtly.”

Book 4
From Age Eighteen to Twenty-seven

“For a period of nine years,…I lived seduced and seducing, deceived and deceiving, in various forms of unholy desires….On the one hand I was striving after the emptiness of popular praise…On the other hand, I desired to be cleansed of these defilements…I followed these things and practiced them with my friends who were deceived by me and with me.”

“Let the arrogant mock me,…O my God…Bear with me, and give me grace, I pray, to go over the wanderings of former years, and to offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving. For without you, what am I to myself, but a guide to my own downfall?...In my need and helplessness I will confess to you.”

Book 5
At Age Twenty-eight

“Accept the sacrifice of my confessions by the means of my tongue, which you have formed and have prompted to confess to your name....For he who confesses to you does not inform you what takes place within him, since a closed heart does not shut out your eye…Nothing can hide from your heart.”

Book 6
At Age Twenty-nine

“I sought you outside myself and did not find the God of my heart. I had come into the depths of the sea, and distrusted and despaired of ever discovering the truth. By this time my mother had come to me, strengthened by her piety, following me over sea and land, and trusting you through all danger…She found me in deadly trouble through my despair of ever finding the truth.”

Book 7
At Age Thirty

“My evil and abominable youth was now dead, and I was passing into early manhood…But you, Lord, abide forever. Yet you are not angry with us forever, because you have pity on our dust and ashes. It was pleasing in your sight to reform my deformities, and you disturbed me by inward goads to make me dissatisfied until you were revealed to my inward sight. Thus, by the secret hand you were revealed to my inward sight.”

Book 8
At Age Thirty-one

“O my God, let me remember and confess with gratitude to your mercies bestowed on me. Let my bones be steeped in your love...You have broken my bonds; I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving. I shall declare how you have broken them; and all who worship you when they hear these things, shall say, Bless be the Lord in heaven and earth; great and wonderful is his name.”

Book 9
At Age Thirty-two

“O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant and the son of your handmaid. You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to you the sacrifice of praise. Let my heart and my tongue praise you; yes, let all my bones say, “Lord, who is like you?” Let them speak like this, and answering, say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”

Book 10
The Examined Life

“What is there in me that could be hidden from you, O Lord to whose eyes the depths of man’s conscience is bare, even though I did not confess it? I might hide you from myself, but not myself from you. But now my groaning bear witness that I am displeased with myself and that you shine brightly and are pleasing, beloved and desired. I am ashamed of myself and renounce myself, and choose you, for I can neither please you nor myself except in you. Therefore I am open to you, Lord, with all that I am, and whatever benefit may come from my confession to you.”

“I call upon you, O my God, my Mercy,
who made me and who did not forget me, thought I forgot you...
Do not forsake me now as I call on you,
who anticipated me before I called,
and urged me with many kinds of repeated calls.
That I should hear you from afar, be converted,
and call upon you who called me.”
(Augustine, The Confessions, Book 13, From Inquiry to Praise)
Saint Augustine - Philippe de Champaigne
Augustine Confessions - Manuscript on Vellum
Saint Augustine Departing for Milan - Benozzo Gozzoli
Saint Augustine & Saint Monica - Ary Scheffer
Saint Augustine - Sandro Botticelli

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