Tod ay we celebrate the feast day of a truly great saint and theologian, namely St Augustine. As a young man he was not renowned for his faith but for virtually the opposite. Whatever Augustine did he did with gusto, and so when he sinned he did so greatly. He gave in to many of the sexual pleasures of his time and kept a mistress for many years. He even had at least one son that we know of. Yet when the time came for conversion in his life when he went to Italy in search of greater learning he eventually surrendered himself and his enormous intellect to the grace of God. For me he is probably the greatest of all the theologians of the Church as he he is the first to really comment on all the various branches of theology in a systematic manner. He is the most quoted of all the saints in both the Prayer of the Church and the Catholic Catechism.

 

St Augustine was baptized when he was 32 years old after arriving in Milan and being enraptured by the preaching of St Anselm, then the bishop of Milan. A few years later Augustine was ordained a priest and then a few years after that, by virtue of public acclamation, ordained a bishop. And so began his long and distinguished service in the Church fighting heresy and error. Some people today blame the over zealous conscience of Augustine for the Church’s sometimes perceived negative view of human nature – its proneness to sin. However, I believe they do him an injustice.

 

Augustine was a realist and thus not worried with speaking out the truth – he does so in a very frank manner in his autobiography – probably the first ever written – and anyone who wants to understand the spirituality of the the man must begin with this epic work. It can be difficult reading at times but well worth the effort. I recommend you all to his “Confessions,” and see if you do not believe me that he is a man for whom the love of God comes first, above all other things.

 

Holy Spirit, help me to be inspired by the love of St Augustine for God and his fellow men and women. Lead me in the path of conversion so that my life might inspire others to follow the Lord.