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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 July 16, 2020

Today God invites you to do good; do it therefore today. Tom...

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July 16

 

Today God invites you to do good;
do it therefore today.
Tomorrow you may not have time, or
God may no longer call you to do it.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Elias saw the cloud as a symbol of the Virgin mentioned in t...

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Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel can be traced back to the hermits living on Mount Carmel in Israel during the Old Testament. This ancient community prayed for the advent of the Virgin-Mother through whom salvation was promised to mankind. In Hebrew, “Carmel” means “garden”. In ancient times this mountain was celebrated for its lush, verdant, and flowery beauty.

It was also on Mount Carmel that the Prophet Elijah prayed to God for rain during a terrible drought afflicting Israel for its sins and idolatry of Baal. The first sign that his prayer was answered was a tiny cloud that appeared in the sky out over the Mediterranean, the precursor of a great rainfall.

Elias saw the cloud as a symbol of the Virgin mentioned in the prophecies of Isaiah (7:14). The hermits took after his example and prayed likewise for the advent of the much-awaited Virgin who would become the mother of the Messiah. Praying thus became their spiritual mission.

Theologians see in that little cloud a figure of Mary, bringing salvation in the seventh age of the world. As the clouds arise out of the sea without the weight and the salinity of the waters, so has Mary arisen out of the human race without its stains.

In the twelfth century, St. Berthold, a Frenchman, pilgrim or crusader, came to Mount Carmel seeking to visit Elijah’s cave, and ended by founding a community imbued with the Marian spirit of the holy prophet and the hermits of old.

St. Brocard, successor of St. Berthold, set their way of life to a Rule, which was approved by Pope Innocent IV in 1247. From the time of St. Brocard, these monks were known as the “Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.”

Our Lady of Mount Carmel cannot be mentioned without also mentioning her brown scapular. On July 16, 1251, Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock, an English Carmelite monk, and then General of the Carmelite Order. On one arm she held the Child Jesus and on the other a brown garment called a scapular, to be draped over the front and back of a person. As she showed him this garment she said, “This shall be the privilege for you and for all the Carmelites, that anyone dying in this habit shall be saved.”

This privilege is extended to lay persons who, wishing to participate in this promise, choose to be enrolled in a small version of the scapular by an officiating priest or deacon.

This practice must not be understood superstitiously or “magically”, but in light of Catholic teaching that perseverance in the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity are required for salvation.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protest...

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Walk to Conversion

In September, I brought the statue of Our Lady of Fatima to the home of Mr. John Black and his family in Kings City, California.  John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protestantism: about thirteen years ago he was visiting one of the 21 Spanish missions in California (though these are holy sites, they also serve as tourist attractions.)

“Who is this Junipero Serra anyways?”  he asked, as the tour guide shared the history of the mission. “Well,” the guide responded, “you are standing on his grave!”  Surprised, John looked down and read inscription on the stone. Sure enough, Blessed Father Junipero Serra was buried right there. “I became electrified,” John told me, “I had to learn more about this man and about the missions.”  The more he studied Blessed Serra, the founder of the first nine missions, the more impressed he became, and he decided to travel on-foot to all 21 missions. 

With the blessing of his wife, now left at home with their two infant sons, John left for his solo expedition, taking with him a single backpack, the bible and little money.  He told me that every mission he visited he felt the presence of someone receiving him, even if the mission was empty. He felt this ambiance in the missions so serene and uplifting, and began to realize it was the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament that made him feel so at home.

At one point, John collapsed from exhaustion near a mission run by Franciscans, who kindly hosted him for the night. Before he left the next day, one of the friars gave him a first-class relic of Blessed Serra. Since he was Protestant, John did not know what a relic was, but not wanting to appear rude, he accepted it. Not long after he left the Franciscans, John became lost in the wilderness in the middle of the night. Through his exhaustion and fear he heard a voice say, “Let’s help John.” He had the distinct feeling that Blessed Serra was guiding him, and gathered the strength and courage to continue. About six hours later, he stumbled upon the next mission. “It was kind of a miracle,” he said, “I was really lost!”

During his journey, John slowly came to a realization. “I know what you want from me, God,” he thought to himself one day, “you what me to became a Catholic. That is what this is all about!” However, he still had many questions about aspects of Catholicism that have been rejected by his Protestant faith – mainly about the Blessed Mother. Yet, from that point on he received answers to all of his questions, especially his reservations about devotion to Mary: he believed that it was once again Blessed Serra answering him.

With the help of Blessed Serra, one problem after another was resolved in the solitude of his travels. By the time John reached the final mission, he wholly decided to become a Catholic. “I realized that by having devotion to Mary, you love Our Lord even more,” he told me.

John returned home, filled with zeal and enthusiasm for his newfound faith. He shared his astonishing experiences with his wife, and she too converted. “I feel at home in the Catholic church,” John said, “and I have never loved Our Lord Jesus Christ more than I do now.”

by Joseph Ferrara

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John shared with me the story of his conversion from Protestantism: about fourteen years ago he was visiting one of the 21 Spanish missions in California 

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