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Augustine was born on November 13, 354 at Tagaste, on the northern coast of Africa, in what is now Algeria. He was raised as a Christian by his mother, Monica, despite his father, Patricius, being a pagan. His mother’s example of fervent faith was a strong influence on the young boy, one that would follow him throughout his life.

Although he had been enrolled amongst the catechumens in his youth and had received a Christian education in Tagaste, Augustine had nevertheless deferred the reception of Baptism, and was as yet unbaptized when the question of his advanced studies arose. Proud of his son’s academic prowess and prospects, Patricius was determined to send Augustine to Carthage, but had not the means available and thus it was that his eldest son spent his sixteenth year in an idleness that proved fatal to his virtue.

 

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Having thrown himself wholeheartedly into the pursuit of pleasure and gradually given up the practice of prayer, by the time Augustine reached Carthage late in the year 370, he was easily won over by the seductions of the half-pagan city.

When his father died in 371, soon after he arrived in Carthage, Augustine became the nominal head of the family and set up a household with a concubine, the mother of his son, Adeodatus, born about 372.

At the university Augustine studied literature and poetry, Latin, public speaking, and rhetoric. A terrible crisis of faith followed close upon his moral dissipation and Augustine fell into the snares of the Manichæans, a heretical sect that believed all flesh and matter to be evil, denied free will and attributed the commission of a crime to a foreign principle. Once he was won over by the sect, Augustine devoted himself to it with all the vehemence of his ardent nature and drew into it a number of friends by his proselytizing. Over time Augustine became disenchanted with the irresolvable contradictions he observed in the teachings of the Manichæans, but it took nine years for the illusion to die completely.

At the age of twenty-nine, Augustine set off secretly for Rome, resorting to subterfuge to avoid being followed by his mother, Monica. After a brief sojourn in Rome, he applied for a vacant professorship in Milan, where he was soon joined by his mother.

His meeting with St. Ambrose so impressed him that he became a regular attendant at the bishop’s sermons. Cicero’s work Hortensius was also instrumental in Augustine’s final conversion, inspiring him with the desire to seek the truth. His passions, however, were to enslave him for another three years. Finally, through the reading of the Holy Scriptures light penetrated his mind. Grace soon followed and the thirty-three-year-old Augustine resigned his professorship, put aside a prospective marriage arranged by his mother, and retired to a country estate to devote himself entirely to the pursuit of true philosophy, now inseparable in his mind from Christianity.

With his son, and the friends who had accompanied him into retirement, he was baptized on Easter Sunday in 387 by St. Ambrose. His ordination to the priesthood in 391 was followed by his consecration as Bishop of Hippo four years later. His priestly and episcopal ministries were both admirably fruitful: he fought heresy with lion-like tenacity, challenged heretics to public debates, attended Church councils, and was a prodigious writer and zealous preacher.

One of the greatest theologians of all time, among his extant works can be found more than 300 sermons, 500 letters, and numerous other writings on a wide variety of topics. Whilst refuting a Pelagian heretic, Augustine was stricken with a fatal illness.

For three months he suffered with unconquerable patience amid continuous prayer, and died on August 28 in the year 430.

 


 

 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for August 3, 2021

Jesus who cannot suffer long to keep you in affliction will...

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August 3

 

Jesus who cannot suffer long to keep you in affliction
will come to relieve and comfort you
by infusing fresh courage into your soul.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina


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Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Waltheof of Melrose

He strove so greatly for perfection that his confessors ofte...

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St. Waltheof of Melrose

Waltheof was born of English nobility. The son of Simon, the Earl of Huntingdon, and Maud, the grand-niece of William the Conqueror, he was also the grandson of Saint Waldef of Northumbria. As a child, Waltheof felt drawn to churches and the religious life. Following his father's death, he, and his mother and brother moved to Scotland where Maud married King David I. As part of the royal court, he was educated and became a spiritual student of St. Aelred.

Following his long-held inclination to contemplation and desiring to dedicate himself entirely to God, Waltheof left Scotland and traveled to Yorkshire to join the Augustinian Canons at the monastery at Nostell. He was soon chosen as prior, and led the monks in a more austere rule. Some time later, Waltheof left Nostell for the more austere life of the Cistercian monks.
Four years after receiving the Cistercian habit, he was nominated as abbot of Melrose, a newly established monastery. Then, in 1154, he was chosen as the new Archbishop of St. Andrews, but in his humility, he begged St. Aelred to oppose the election and not oblige him to accept.

Waltheof died in 1160 of old age. It has been said that he strove so greatly for perfection, that his confessors often found him irksome.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

In the days of yore, when travel must be had on foot or by h...

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The Virgin Mary Rewards a Bandit

In the days of yore, when travel must be had on foot or by horse, many were the dangers to be found along the roadways. Bandits plagued travelers and made their living by depriving others of their goods and often their very lives.

A young woman in the Papal States, who was very devout towards Mary, met in a certain place a chief of the bandits. Fearing some outrage, she implored him, for love of the most holy Virgin, not to molest her.

"Do not fear," he answered, "for you have prayed me in the name of the mother of God; and I only ask you to recommend me to her." Moved by the woman’s mention of the Blessed Virgin, the bandit accompanied her himself along the road to a place of safety.

The following night, Mary appeared in a dream to the bandit. She thanked him for the act of kindness he had performed for love of her. Mary went on to say that she would remember it and would one day reward him.

The robber, at length, was arrested, and condemned to death. But behold, the night previous to his execution, the blessed Virgin visited him again in a dream, and first asked him: "Do you know who I am?"

He answered, "It seems to me I have seen you before."

"I am the Virgin Mary," she continued, "and I have come to reward you for what you have done for me. You will die tomorrow, but you will die with so much contrition that you will come at once to paradise."

The convict awoke, and felt such contrition for his sins that he began to weep bitterly, all the while giving thanks aloud to our Blessed Lady. He asked immediately for a priest, to whom he made his confession with many tears, relating the vision he had seen. Finally, he asked the priest to make public this grace that had been bestowed on him by Mary.

He went joyfully to his execution, after which, as it is related, his countenance was so peaceful and so happy that all who saw him believed that the promise of the heavenly mother had been fulfilled.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

In the days of yore, when travel must be had on foot or by horse, many were the dangers to be found along the roadways.