Six Degrees of Saint Augustine
St. Augustine is highly regarded as one of the greatest Saints in the Church. With his Feast Day on August 28th, here are six reason why you should get to know St. Augustine better and learn about the legacy he left on Western Civilization.
- St. Monica: Augustine's wayward years brought forth the intensive prayers of his mother, Monica. Her conviction was that “the child of those tears shall never perish.” More than a dozen years of toil on behalf of her son bore his fruitful conversion. Monica's example of “prayer without ceasing”contributed to the cause of her Sainthood. Monica's Feast Day is August 27th, the day after Augustine's.
- St. Ambrose: The second saint associated with Augustine, Ambrose was the Bishop of Milan and a highly gifted speaker. Augustine was duly impressed with his oratorical skills. Once Augustine began to listen to the content of Ambrose's lectures, Augustine was able to see the truth of the Catholic faith and the problems with Manichaeism.
- Confessions: From sinner to Saint, Augustine's Confessions is a timeless classic for everyone. Augustine wrote, "Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord".. This most famous quote is from the introductory pages in the Confessions about man's restless search for God, and impresses upon the reader the universality of struggle.
- Bishop: A few years after his conversion, Augustine was praying in a church in Hippo in Africa when he was surrounded by a crowd. The bishop of Hippo was persuaded by the people to ordain Augustine, who, until that time had not given thought to the priesthood. After his ordination, he preached successfully against Manichaeism, and won many converts. In 396 Augustine became coadjutor bishop in Hippo and served for the people faithfully for nearly thirty-five years,
- Doctor: Most well known for his “Confessions” and “The City of God”, Augustine actually wrote nearly fifty scholarly works. He combated numerous heresies and clarified Catholic doctrine, earning him the title of Doctor, one of only 33 in all of Church history. He is the Doctor of Grace.
- Heresies: Living during a turbulent time, Augustine had to contend with many heretical forms of Christianity. As a Bishop, he wrote and spoke definitively against four while strengthening Church teaching: 1) Manichaeism: Augustine affirmed free will and discussed evil; 2) Donatism, which argued against the Church and Church hierarchy 3) Pelagianism: Augustine affirmed the doctrine of Original Sin and wrote about grace; and 4) Arianism: a heresy that said God the Son was not of the same substance as the God the Father.
Augustine is rightly one of the most beloved figures in Church history, both for his personal story and his brilliant mind. Pope Benedict XVI aptly said of him, “St Augustine was a man who never lived superficially; his thirst, his restless and constant thirst for the Truth is one of the basic characteristics of his existence...that Truth that gives meaning to life and is the "dwelling-place" in which the heart finds serenity and joy.”