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St. Augustine of Hippo


By Barbara Kralis

©Barbara Kralis 2004
Catholic Online

Augustine's account of his early life of wrongdoing would not shock very many in America today.  His sins in the fourth century are the same grave transgressions suffered by far too many of us in the 21st century.  Sic faciunt omnes - concupiscence of the flesh, renunciation of the Catholic Faith and the embracing of modernism (heresy).  [1]

What would shock many in America today would be the transformation he made from sinfulness to Sainthood, and not without a tributary of tearful petitions from his holy mother, Monica, to God, the Father of Mercy.

As a beloved Son who imitated his father's habits of idolatry, Augustine took up residence in the sin of fornication.  He and his mistress begot a son out of wedlock.  Promoting the widespread heresy of Manichæanism,[2] Augustine renounced his Catholic faith.

Sadly, this may sound too prosaic in today's culture of Neo-Manichæanism.

Augustine had been one of the early Church's worst enemies.  His mother, Monica, prayed night and day for his eternal soul.  Miraculously, after reading St. Paul, he had an instantaneous conversion.

He became an intrepid defender of the Faith he once scoffed and rejected.[3]  Now known as St. Augustine, he is one of the great doctors of the Church.

Ordained in the priesthood in the year 390, he moved to Hippo where he established a community of followers.  Five years later Father Augustine was consecrated Bishop of Hippo.

This multi-faceted religious genius and servant of God affected the monastic life of the West second only to that of St. Benedict.[4]

St. Augustine has much to say to modern society.  Numerous books are available that contain his works for the people of God.  Among his literature are his Maxims, Homilies, Treatises, Sermons, Commentaries on the Psalms, Meditations, Soliloquies, Catechetical Instructions, The City of God Against The Pagans [5], his Diverse Questions, his Letters, his Confessions, and his prayers are filled with beauty and wisdom for our era.

Augustine's treatise 'De bono coniugali' ("On the Good of Marriage") is most necessary today as a consequence of degradation of sacramental laws of marriage worldwide.

Perhaps St. Augustine is known best for his penetrating psychological work comprised of thirteen books entitled the 'Confessions.'[6]

We cannot talk about Augustine without also talking about his mother, St. Monica.  Had she not patiently performed daily penances for sixteen years for her oldest son's conversion, we would not have St. Augustine today.

Had she not shed her numerous well-known tears, her own pagan husband would not have converted to Christianity just a year before he died.  She watched her grandson, Adeodatus, receive his baptism with his father Augustine.  Monica was responsible for the conversion of Augustine's mistress who later entered a convent for the rest of her life.

St. Monica died shortly after the age of 56; Augustine was 33.  He suffered the dark night of the soul at such a great loss.  Monica went to her eternal reward secure in the knowledge that Augustine 's conversion was complete and her earthly work was finished.

Known as the Saint of Persistence, the Saint of Hope, St. Monica is the patroness of troubled parents.  Her dies natalis[7] is celebrated in the Church on August 27.

Shortly after their Baptism together, Augustine's son, Adeodatus, died at age 16 in the state of grace.  St. Augustine is the 'patron of theologians.'  His Feast is celebrated one day after his mother's, on August 28.

Here, below, is a popular Bishop Sheen vignette.


"Too late, O Ancient beauty, have I loved Thee."[8]

By Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

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