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Friday, 1 March 2013

Part 62: DoC and Perfection: St. Augustine of Hippo

One forgets the world of St. Augustine was very much like ours today.

He grew up and went to a classical school.

He went to the theatre most likely in or near Tagaste (Thagaste).

He went to the University at Carthage and went to the Roman baths there.
Augustine at Tagaste all from the Apsidal chapel, Sant'Agostino, San Gimignano

He was a man of the world.

He understood, from first-hand, as we see in his masterpiece, the two cities: the City of God and the City of Man.

He was a citizen of both at one time of his life.

He went to Rome to teach rhetoric. He went to Milan.

Augustine on his way to Rome to teach

Then, all changed and he became a Catholic. Then, a monk.

People forget that he lived in a community and took vows. He then was ordained and became a bishop.

Above all, his scholarship shows the genius that he was. but a genius with all the struggles and temptations found in the City of Man.

Perhaps more than any of those Doctors I have highlighted here on this blog so far, Augustine speaks to us today.

Augustine teaching in Rome

We are on the edge of the ruin of Western Civilization. We are heading into neo-barbarism.

The Fall of Rome marked a time of the end of civilization and culture which was taken for granted by millions of people. The barbarian culture was not one of civilization.

Augustine reading St. Paul

But, the rot in the culture of Rome led to the relatively easy take over the the City of Man.

God had a plan. The City of God was to grow even more out of pain and suffering-the ashes of the great pagan civilization. And, a New Rome was built on the ruins of the old.

Even on, especially on the edge of destruction of all we have taken for granted, is the way of perfection needed. Do not wait, do not procrastinate.

Augustine could have said no to the way of perfection. He could have run away from the hard way.

When he was in his garden, he heard child-like voice saying this,
"Take and read". He was led to this passage in St. Paul in Romans:

"Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof" 

Even though Augustine was consecrated and appointed Bishop of Hippo, he lived in a monastic lifestyle.

He is called the patron saint of the "regular clergy" which is very interesting.

The way of perfection is for all of us. We only need to say yes.

The Baptism of Augustine by St. Ambrose